When you have a baby and hold it in your arms for the first time, the furthest thought from your mind is that your child could be diagnosed with cancer when they are still very young. However, sometimes this does happen. If you have recently found out that your child is suffering from neuroblastoma, you may be confused and unsure of what to do or think about the situation. Getting to know some of the facts about neuroblastoma as well as the treatment options available to your child can help to ease your confusion and get your child on track to recover from their cancer diagnosis as successfully and quickly as possible.
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that primarily affects infants and younger children. This is because it develops in cells present in the fetal stages and through early childhood known as neuroblasts. Neuroblasts are basically a type of stem cell or "pre-cell" that will eventually develop into fully formed nerve cells. Because of the nature of these cells, neuroblastoma can actually affect a fetus still in the womb.
Neuroblastoma can develop anywhere throughout the body as nerve cells connect all of the different body organs and systems to the brain. However, development of neuroblastoma most often occurs on or around the kidneys or elsewhere in the abdominal region of the body.
Neuroblastoma Treatment Options
Once your child is diagnosed with neuroblastoma, your top priority will be to help them overcome their cancer diagnosis and move on with their childhood and their lives. There are numerous treatment options available for this type of childhood cancer, and which treatment is recommended will depend on how aggressive the cancer is and the exact location of the tumors in the body. Generally, neuroblastoma will be categorized as high-risk or low-risk, meaning the cancer is either likely to continue to grow and spread or unlikely to do so.
Low-risk neuroblastoma is most often treated with the surgical removal of the tumors. This option essentially removes all of the known cancer cells from the body and may, in fact, be the only treatment necessary to make a full recovery. Once surgery is complete, doctors will monitor your child and together you will determine if you want to pursue other treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy to ensure that no cancer cells remain in the body.
High-risk neuroblastoma, on the other hand, requires more extensive treatment. Depending on the size of the tumors and the scope of the cancer in the body, your child's medical team may opt to start treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A radiation specialist will target the tumors in the body and use radiation beams to try to stop tumor growth and shrink the tumors so that they can be more easily removed surgically. Chemotherapy works to attempt to kill off cancer cells throughout the body which prevents them from replicating and can help stop the spread of neuroblastoma.
With this information in mind, you can better understand neuroblastoma and the treatment options available to your child going forward.
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