Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body. Neuroblastoma most commonly arises in and around the adrenal glands, which have similar origins to nerve cells and sit atop the kidneys. However, neuroblastoma can also develop in other areas of the abdomen and in the chest, neck and near the spine, where groups of nerve cells exist.

Neuroblastoma most commonly affects children age 5 or younger, though it may rarely occur in older children.

Some forms of neuroblastoma go away on their own, while others may require multiple treatments. Your child's neuroblastoma treatment options will depend on several factors.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of neuroblastoma vary depending on what part of the body is affected.

Neuroblastoma in the abdomen — the most common form — may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • A mass under the skin that isn't tender when touched
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea
  • Swelling in the legs

Neuroblastoma in the chest may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Changes to the eyes, including drooping eyelids and unequal pupil size

Other signs and symptoms that may indicate neuroblastoma include:

  • Lumps of tissue under the skin
  • Eyeballs that seem to protrude from the sockets (proptosis)
  • Dark circles, similar to bruises, around the eyes
  • Back pain
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain

When to see a doctor

Contact your child's doctor if your child has any signs or symptoms that worry you. Mention any changes in your child's behavior or habits.

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