Neuroblastoma is a name for cancer that arises from undeveloped or early nerve cells. It is found in very small children, especially around the age of 5 years or even lesser. It may occur in older children and adults too, however, the incidences are extremely rare and the prognosis is poor.(4)

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Is Neuroblastoma Benign Or Malignant?

Neuroblastoma is malignant or cancerous.(2) Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that begins in the early or undeveloped nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as neuroblasts. Hence, neuroblastomas can be found anywhere where this system runs.

Most of the neuroblastomas begin in the abdomen, in the sympathetic nerve ganglia. Out of these, around half the cases begin in the adrenal glands, which are situated on the top of the kidneys, one each. Out of the rest of them, most begin in the ganglia around the spine in neck or chest. They may also begin in the pelvis. In very rare cases, the neuroblastoma spreads so far and wide in the body that its origin cannot be determined.

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Some of the neuroblastomas grow and spread very rapidly while others don’t. sometimes, in very small children, cancer goes away on its own for no tumor reason. In some other cases, the cells grow into normal ganglion cells and cease division. This turns the tumor into a benign ganglioneuroma.

Some tumors of the nervous system may be benign while others are malignant. Some tumors may also have a tumor as well as malignant cells in the same tumor.

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Ganglioneuroma-

Tumors is a benign or a non-cancerous tumor that is made up of nerve sheath cells and mature ganglion(1)

Ganglioneuroblastoma -

  • This tumor consists of both benign and malignant cells.
  • It consists of neuroblasts, that are the immature or early nerve cells, which grow and spread abnormally. tumors are similar to neuroblastoma
  • It also involves more mature tissue which is same as ganglioneuroma(1)

Is Neuroblastoma A Genetic Disorder?

Most of the people having neuroblastoma have sporadic neuroblastoma. This means that this cancer arises from somatic mutations in the cells and is not inherited.

In extremely rare conditions, there may be familial neuroblastoma. This is due to the autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, which happens when there is one copy of altered genes present, which increases the risk of getting this condition. However, not each and every person who inherits the defective gene gets neuroblastoma. So, it can be said that having a defective gene increases one’s chances of getting neuroblastoma but, along with that a somatic mutation is also needed to cause neuroblastoma.(3)

Generally, cancer starts with a mutation in genes, that makes the normal and healthy cells to grow abnormally and uncontrollably, without bothering to hid the signal to stop. Normal cells usually respond to these signals and halt their abnormal and uncontrolled growth. Cancer cells, however, grow and multiply abnormally and beyond control. These abnormal, uncontrolled, surplus or extra cells form a mass, which we call as a tumor.

Neuroblastoma is a tumor that starts in the neuroblasts. Neuroblasts are the undeveloped tumor nerve cells. These are a part of the foetal growing process. As the fetus grows, the nerve cells also grow and form into full-grown nerve cells and fibers. These cells also make up the adrenal gland. These neuroblasts develop by the time the baby is born. Some may remain immature, however, even after the birth. These eventually mature or vanish. Those that do not, turn into a form of cancer- the neuroblastoma.

The exact reason for this genetic mutation is not known till date.(4)

Conclusion

Neuroblastoma is a malignant or cancerous condition. Genetic mutation may be a cause for the development of neuroblastoma in some of the cases.

References:  

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: July 12, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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