Neuroblastoma in Children

Neuroblastoma in children is a cancer that occurs in the developing cells of the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for involuntary actions of the body, such as blushing, increasing heart rate, and dilating the pupils of the eye. The majority of tumors in children (65%) are located above the kidney. However, tumors can begin anywhere in the body. Other common sites are the chest, neck or pelvis. The disease often spreads from its "primary" location to the bone marrow, bones or lymph nodes.

Talia Castellano
Talia Castellano
7 Years Old at Diagnosis
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Researchers are working to understand how and why neuroblastoma occurs. Many researchers believe that neuroblastoma develops when normal neuroblasts (the immature cells of the sympathetic nervous system) fail to mature into nerve cells. Instead, they continue to grow and divide uncontrollably, leading to the growth of a mass of cancerous cells, or a tumor. Researchers have also started to identify mistakes, or "mutations" that occur in genetic material – the DNA – of neuroblastoma cells, but have yet to figure out exactly why those mutations happen in the first place.

Last updated July, 2011

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