By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
Can neuroblastoma occur in adults?
Neuroblastoma rarely occurs in adults or teens because these cancer cells develop in certain types of immature nerve tissue. Neuroblastoma is most commonly seen in children ages 5 and younger and can form in babies in the womb. This cancer usually starts in the adrenal glands, but in some cases originates in the neck, abdomen, spine, or chest. It is often diagnosed when the primary tumor spreads, which triggers symptoms throughout the body.
Signs of neuroblastoma vary based on the location of the cancer cells. Since the cancer typically effects very young children, it is important for parents to understand warning signs and pay attention to changes in their child. Adults with neuroblastoma will experience similar symptoms.
Symptoms of neuroblastoma in the abdomen (which is the most common) are:
- Abdominal pain
- A mass under the skin that is not sensitive or tender to the touch
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
Symptoms of neuroblastoma in the chest are:
- Chest pain
- Changes to the eyes, including drooping eyelids and unequal pupil size
Other common symptoms neuroblastoma are:
- Lumps of tissue under the skin
- Eyeballs that seem to protrude from the sockets (proptosis)
- Dark circles, like bruises, around the eyes
- Back pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone pain
The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown so there is nothing specific that pregnant women or parents can do to help prevent the development of this disease in their children. When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it is very scary. It is important to stay as calm as possible when discussing treatment options with your child’s physicians so you can make the best decisions for your child.
Neuroblastoma treatment varies based on the age of the child, where the cancer is located, and the stage of the disease. For patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, which has progressed in the body, doctors will often recommend bone marrow or stem cell transplant. In these cases, they are also working with new medical technology that uses a radioactive form of the chemical metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG). Because the MIBG is radioactive, patients who undergo this treatment stay in specialized rooms for several days until the radiation is released from the body via urine.
This procedure is designed to target the cancer cells in the body. When injected into the bloodstream, the MIBG travels to the neuroblastoma cells and releases the radiation killing the cancer cells. Depending on other factors, MIBG therapy can be combined with chemotherapy or other treatment strategies.
“New technologies and treatment options that are designed to target cancer cells, including neuroblastoma, are exciting innovations,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, founder & CEO of Causenta. “Traditional chemotherapy basically kills everything, but these targeted treatments have a specific job to do and usually do it well.”
Causenta’s physicians and care teams believe in helping patients fight cancer with limited side effects. Treatment options like MIBG, along with supplemental strategies such as exercise and healthy eating, can help achieve these goals.
For more information on neuroblastoma, adult treatment options, and holistic cancer care with Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.