Neuroblastoma

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) defines Neuroblastoma as a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system – a nerve network that carries messages from the brain throughout the body.  It is usually found in young children and is the most common cancer among infants.  These solid tumors – which take the form of a lump or mass – may begin in nerve tissues in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, or most commonly, in the adrenal gland. They may also spread to other areas of the body, including bone and bone marrow.  The cause of Neuroblastoma is unknown.

In the last 5 years, significant strides have been made in treatment across the globe to fight Neuroblastoma and other rare pediatric cancers. Innovative drugs and treatments have been made available that prolong survival; however, do not cause debilitation or long-term side effects.

Childhood Cancer – The Facts & Reality

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children.

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  • Neuroblastoma affects approximately 700 children a year and is most commonly found in children under the age of 5.
  • Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, a nerve network that carries  messages from the brain throughout the body.
  • Most neuroblastoma begins in the abdomen in the adrenal gland, next to the spinal cord, or in the chest.
  • Neuroblastoma can spread to the bones, bone marrow, brain, spine, liver, lymph nodes, skin and around the eyes.
  • Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers and accounts for 15% of all pediatric cancer deaths.The first symptoms are often vague and may include fatigue and loss of appetite which is why it can be hard to diagnose.
  • 70% of cases at diagnosis have already spread to other areas of the body which places the cancer in a Stage 4 category.
  • The 5 year survival rate for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma is 30%.
  • 60% of patients with Neuroblastoma will relapse. Once in relapse, the survival rate drops to less than 5%.
  • There are no known cures for relapsed Neuroblastoma.
  • Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers and accounts for 15% of all pediatric cancer deaths.
  • Childhood cancers, like Neuroblastoma, fall into the orphan category.
  • There will be approximately 10,380 new cases of pediatric cancer diagnosed in children under 15 in 2015;
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children and the second leading cause of death in children (after accidents)
  • The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) investment in pediatric cancers was $195.5 million in 2011, while its investment for breast cancer research that year was $625 million.
  • About 1,250 children younger than 15 years old are expected to die from cancer in 2015.

USA Treatment Centers

 

  • The most common treatment available for Neuroblastoma is chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and immunotherapy.
  • Common side effects of these treatment procedures can include but are not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, low blood counts, compromised immune systems, hearing loss, learning defects, heart problems, intense pain, high risk of second cancers, and infertility… just to name a few.
  • Immunotherapy, vaccines and the utilization of current drugs that are in clinical trials for adult cancers are three ways that MSKCC is making strides against Neuroblastoma.
  • The National Cancer Institute research budget in 2009 was $3.1 billion. Of that, breast cancer received 22%, prostate cancer received 11% and all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined received less than 3%. (Childhood leukemia receiving almost half.)
  • A recent government report found a “near absence” of research into pediatric cancer drugs.
  • Approximately half of the oncology drugs to treat children are at least 20 years old.
  • A large part of the funding for Neuroblastoma treatments is made possible through private institutions, generous donors, and families of children with Neuroblastoma.
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