It is often a task to claim a social security disability as the process is very complex and confusing. Many people who qualify for a social security disability are rejected due to lack of proper paperwork, so they need to hire an attorney and social security special agent to complete the task. There are yet another group of people who qualify for social security benefit but are unaware of it.(1)
Is Neuroblastoma A Disability & Can You Claim Disability Benefits?
The financial stress due to several diseases and disabilities can be reduced by the compensation and benefits received by the Social Security Administration. Elders and children are all eligible for disability benefits provided they are suffering from a disability that can be claimed for a benefit. Neuroblastoma that mostly affects children is one such disability for which parents of children suffering from neuroblastoma can claim a disability benefit.(1)
The qualification for disability benefits may take from weeks, months to years to clear. However, Social Security Administration realizes that children suffering from neuroblastoma require faster processing of their claims; therefore, they have included it in Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowances guidelines. This means that children suffering from neuroblastoma can get approved for disability benefits at a faster rate and even within weeks rather than waiting for months to years for gaining disability benefits.(1)
Neuroblastoma is a heterogeneous disease that consists of a tumor of the sympathetic nervous system that is derived from neural crest cells. It is the most common extracranial tumor affecting the children. Approximately, 700 new cases are diagnosed per year in the United States. It comprises about 8% of all pediatric tumors diagnosed in children <15 years of age and accounts for approximately 15% of all pediatric deaths secondary to cancer. The heterogeneous nature of the disease lies in the fact that the tumor displays varied behavior from spontaneous regression, maturation, and aggressive phenotype with or without therapy. The tumor also shows poor response and relapse to current intensive multimodal therapy.(2)
Approximately 90% of the cases are diagnosed before the age of 5 years, 30% are diagnosed within the first year. The presentation of the tumor is rare in adolescence and adulthood and when it does present in this age group the prognosis is poorer. The 5-year survival rate of patients with neuroblastoma has improved in the last 30 years from 52% to 74%. The survival rate is better for the low-risk group that is up to 92%, whereas the 5-year survival for the high-risk group is around 20%. This is due to the fact that the chance of relapse in the high-risk group is about 50-60%.(3)
Clinical Presentation Of Neuroblastoma
The clinical presentation of the tumor depends on different variables such as the location of the tumor, size, degree of spread, effects from catecholamine secretion, and symptoms due to paraneoplastic syndromes. The most common location of the tumor is the abdomen that accounts for 65% of all neuroblastomas and 50% of all abdominal tumors are found in the medulla of the adrenal gland. Other locations include chest (20%), pelvis (5%), neck (5%), and 1% have no detectable primary location.(3)
Although many patients are asymptomatic, the ones with symptoms present with constitutional symptoms (fever, malaise, weight loss), pain, enlarging mass, abdominal distension, lymphadenopathy, respiratory difficulty due to compression by tumor or hepatomegaly. Pelvic tumors can lead to constipation or urinary problems, thoracic tumors can cause difficulty eating or breathing and sometimes thoracic outlet syndrome. Cervical tumors can lead to Horner’s syndrome and epidural extension of the tumor can lead to neurological impairment and paralysis.(3)
35% present with regional lymph node metastasis at the time of diagnosis. Other metastatic sites include bone marrow, liver, bone, orbits (leading to proptosis, periorbital swelling), and skin (blueberry muffin syndrome). Due to the ability of the tumors to secrete catecholamines, patients may experience early-onset hypertension and tachycardia and may even lead to paraneoplastic syndromes.(3)
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