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Neuroblastoma in Children

  • Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that begins in nerve tissue of very young children, usually beginning in the abdomen or adrenal glands.  Abnormal nerve cells may be present before birth, but the diagnosis isn’t made until the cells begin to multiply, forming a tumor. Neuroblastoma is most commonly diagnosed in children less than 5 years of age and is very rare after the age of 10.

    How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s approaches pediatric neuroblastoma

    Because neuroblastoma is rarely seen in adults, it is important that your child receive care from an experienced team of pediatric specialists who focus exclusively on treating childhood cancers. The Neuroblastoma Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center treats newly diagnosed and relapsed patients and provides innovative therapies for children with relapsed or hard-to-treat neuroblastomas.

    Our Neuroblastoma Program is one of the few pediatric cancer programs in the United States—and the only program in New England—offering MIBG therapy, a targeted form of radiation therapy for recurrent neuroblastoma.

    Our neuroblastoma specialists and surgeons are known for treating children with the most complex cases, as well as for their expertise in delivering specialized treatments, including stem cell transplantation.

    What are the treatments for neuroblastoma?

    Your child’s physician will determine a specific course of treatment for your child’s neuroblastoma based on the tumor risk group and other factors. The types of treatment that are used in neuroblastoma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, and MIBG therapy.
    In general, low- and intermediate-risk neuroblastomas tend to be more treatable. High-risk neuroblastomas are more difficult to treat and require more aggressive therapy. Prompt medical attention and appropriate therapy are important for the best prognosis.

    Research and innovation

    Research is a top priority at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and our physicians work continuously to translate laboratory findings into clinical therapies.

    It’s possible that your child will be eligible to participate in one of the Neuroblastoma Program’s current clinical trials. In addition to launching our own clinical trials, we also offer the most Phase I studies in New England for children whose disease has recurred through the Children's Oncology Group and the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) consortium.

    Clinical trials

    Learn more

    Find more in-depth information about neuroblastoma on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s website.

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