About Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the specialised nerve cells, called neuro crest cells. These cells are involved in the development in the nervous system and other tissues.

Neuroblastoma can develop anywhere in the body but it most often occurs in the adrenal glands, in the abdomen. In some children the Neuroblastoma occurs in the nerve tissue alongside the spinal cord, the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis.

Neuroblastoma is the most common form of embryonal tumour.
Embryonal tumours are characterised by the proliferation of tissue that is only normally seen in the developing embryo. They are mainly seen in very young children.


The causes of Neuroblastoma are still unknown

Neuroblastoma accounts for six per cent of childhood registrations in the UK with around 100 diagnoses annually.

As with all embryonal tumours, Neuroblastoma is the most common in children under the age of five years and extremely rare over the age of ten years.

The incidence of Neuroblastoma is highest in under ones. It is the most single frequent type of cancer in the first year of life, accounting for one fifth of cancers in this age group.

Neuroblastoma is slightly more common in boys then in girls

Signs and Symptoms of Neuroblastoma Childhood Cancer

The first symptoms of Neuroblastoma are generally vague, such as loss of appetite, tiredness, and pains in the bones

Other symptoms vary depending on where the child's Neuroblastoma starts.

  • If its in their abdomen their tummy may be swollen and they may complain of constipation / diarrhoea or difficulty passing urine.
  • If the tumour is in the chest or neck area the child may be breathless and have difficulty swallowing.
  • Occasionally there may be deposits in the skin that appear as small blue coloured lumps.
  • If the tumour is pressing on the spinal cord, it may cause weakness in the legs.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fevers
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Dark circles (bruising ) around the eyes or even protruding of the eyeball.

Please visit your GP if your child is presenting any of the above symptoms. Request a urine sample to check for VMA (Vanillylmandelic Acid) levels

A urine sample can detect VMA which is usually present in small fluctuating amounts that only increase appreciably during and shortly after the body is exposed to Neuroblastomas.


Unfortunately many local GP's are not educated or have not heard of Neuroblastoma, which is why we need your help in spreading the word.