Neuroblastoma

Pediatric cancer specialists at Rush provide compassionate, family-centered care for kids with neuroblastoma — a rare brain cancer in children under 5.

Pediatric cancer specialists at Rush provide compassionate, family-centered care for kids with neuroblastoma — a rare brain cancer in children under 5.

Pediatric cancer specialists at Rush provide compassionate, family-centered care for kids with neuroblastoma — a rare brain cancer in children under 5.

Neuroblastoma is a very rare type of cancerous tumor that forms in the nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest or spinal cord. About 90% of all neuroblastoma cases are diagnosed in children under the age of 5.

Signs You Should Get Your Child Treatment for Neuroblastoma

Call your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Lump in the abdomen, chest or neck
  • Bulging eyes
  • Dark circles around eyes
  • Bone pain
  • Swollen stomach and trouble breathing in babies
  • Painless, bluish lumps under the skin in babies
  • Weakness or trouble moving a part of the body

After seeing your child and running diagnostic tests, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric cancer specialist at Rush for additional tests and exams as needed.

Neuroblastoma Treatment at Rush

Treatment for your child is based on their risk factors. Your child’s doctor will work with you — and the whole team at Rush University Children's Hospital — to determine the best course of treatment for your child’s needs.

Treatment will include some of the following, either in combination or alone:

  • Observation: For babies under 6 months, neuroblastoma may disappear without treatment. In these cases, you and your doctor may choose to monitor your baby’s condition to see whether symptoms appear or change before beginning treatment.
  • Surgery: If your child needs surgery, a pediatric surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as safely possible.
  • Radiation therapy: A radiation oncologist will work with you and your child’s team to determine the best form of radiation therapy for your child’s needs. For children with high-risk neuroblastoma, radioactive iodine may also be administered via IV to help kill the neuroblastoma cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Your child may receive chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells, depending on the type and stage of cancer.
  • High-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy with stem-cell rescue: For patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, your child’s doctor may recommend your child’s stem cells be collected and frozen. This is done so they can be used after high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy to restore your child’s blood and promote quicker recovery.

Rush Excellence in Neuroblastoma Care

  • Expertise and leading-edge research in pediatric cancers: As a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), Rush offers our pediatric and young adult patients opportunities to enroll in National Cancer Institute-backed clinical trials of new treatments for pediatric cancers like neuroblastoma.
  • Kid-friendly care: Our social workers, child life specialists, cases managers and finance specialists are dedicated to supporting you and your family at every point in your child’s care and treatment. Through our Child Life Services department, we use creative ways — books, dolls and kid-friendly medical equipment — to allay your child's fears during imaging scans, medical exams, procedures and before and after surgery.
  • Treatment with advanced technologies: We use new imaging techniques to see if the tumor has spread or responded to therapy. Our radiologists are able to precisely target tumors with radiation beams, which means tumors can receive higher doses of radiation while healthy tissues surrounding the tumors receive less radiation. This lessens the side effects for your child.
  • Care where and when you need it: Our pediatric experts offer care closer to home and on weekends to make it more convenient for you and your child. We also offer Saturday and early evening appointments for new consultations and follow-ups.