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Neuroblastoma Facts

  • Neuroblastoma is an uncommon and difficult to treat cancer, the most common cancer in infancy.
  • In the Canada, about 70 children are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma each year.
  • It is the most common tumor found in children younger than 1 year of age.
  • Neuroblastoma is responsible for 8-10% of all childhood cancers. Although it is only the 5th most common cancer in childhood, it is responsible for a disproportionate number of deaths due to cancer in children. Neuroblastoma usually occurs in children under 5. It is the most common tumor in babies under 1 year of age. Although it is rare, neuroblastoma can occur in older children and adults.
  • Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer in children.
  • Neuroblastoma is the most common extra cranial solid tumor cancer in children.
  • Every 16 hours a child with Neuroblastoma dies.
  • There is no known cure for relapsed Neuroblastoma.
  • Symptoms of the disease vary depending on where the tumor is located. About 40% of Neuroblastoma develop in the adrenal gland which is just above the kidney. The rest begin in a chain of nerve tissue that runs on each side of the spine. Tumors will then develop in the neck, chest, pelvis or abdomen.
  • Nearly 70% of those children first diagnosed with Neuroblastoma have disease that has already metastasized or spread to other parts of the body. When disease has spread at diagnosis and a child is over the age of 2, there is less than a 30% chance of survival.
  • When Neuroblastoma is diagnosed it is classified as being in one of 5 stages. The stage of disease tells us how far the disease has spread and determines what the best plan of treatment should be. Sometimes surgery can be done to remove the tumor. If the tumor cannot be safely removed then chemotherapy may be used to help shrink the tumor so that it can possibly be removed. Chemotherapy is used when the tumor cells have spread throughout the body. Bone Marrow Transplant is often the treatment offered to patients with widespread disease and a poor prognosis once the Neuroblastoma is under control.

 Childhood Cancer Facts

  • The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) federal budget was $4.6 billion. Of that, breast cancer received 12%, prostate cancer received 7%, and all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined received less than 3%.
  • In Canada, less than 2% of the annual budget is spent on all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined.
  • Cancer kills more children than any other disease, more than Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes and Pediatric AIDS combined.
  • Sadly, over 2,300 children with cancer die each year in the USA and 135 in Canada
  • Every school day 46 children are diagnosed in North America
  • 1 in 330 children will have the disease by age 20.
  • Cancers in very young children are highly aggressive and behave unlike malignant diseases at other times in life.
  • 80% of children have metastasized cancer at the time of their diagnosis. At diagnosis, only 20% of adults with cancer show evidence that the disease has spread or metastasized.
  • Detecting childhood cancers at an early stage, when the disease would react more favorably to treatment, is extremely difficult.
  • Cancer symptoms in children – fever, swollen glands, anemia, bruises and infection – are often suspected to be, and at the early stages are treated as, other childhood illnesses.
  • Even with insurance coverage, a family will have out-of pocket expenses of about $40,000 per year, not including travel.
  • Treatment can continue for several years, depending on the type of cancer and the type of therapy given.

What Causes Childhood Cancer?

  • Every family is potentially at risk.
  • In almost all cases, childhood cancers arise from non-inherited mutations (or changes) in the genes of growing cells.
  • As these errors occur randomly and unpredictably, there is currently no effective way to predict or prevent them.
  • Most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupational hazards and exposure to other cancer causing agents.