Neuroblastoma is a tumour arising from particular nerve cells which run in a chain-like fashion up the back of the child's abdomen and chest and into the skull following the line of the spinal cord (neuro = nerve, blastoma = collection of tumour cells). The most common site for the tumour to grow is the abdomen: about 50% start in the adrenal gland above the kidney. Some tumours grow at the back of the chest and occasionally even higher up towards the neck.
Much more rarely, the tumour may start in the brain itself. The site of the tumour may cause different symptoms at the time of diagnosis. For example, a tumour right at the back of the abdomen, which has grown to press on the spinal cord, may cause a variety of symptoms including an unsteady walk or difficulty in passing urine. A child who has a tumour in the chest may have an initial problem with a chest infection, cough or fluid in the lung, which may need treatment before the neuroblastoma itself is tackled.
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For more information about neuroblastoma, visit the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group website.
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