Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that begins in the embryonic cells, which normally develop into parts of our nervous system. These cells are called neuroblasts. A tumor arising from these cells is called a Neuroblastoma. The cause of Neuroblastoma is not known. We do know it is not hereditary, does not result from injury and is not infectious.
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.
Each year throughout North America, several hundred children are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Sixty percent of children diagnosed over the age of 1 have widespread (metastatic) disease at diagnosis.
Over the last 20 years there has been modest improvement, due to research, in the prognosis for children diagnosed at less than 1 year of age with Neuroblastoma, however, despite research initiatives, there has been little improvement in the prognosis for older children with widespread disease at diagnosis. The vast majority of these children die.