Ganglioneuroblastoma

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Definition

Ganglioneuroblastoma is an intermediate tumor that arises from nerve tissues. An intermediate tumor is one that is between benign (slow-growing and unlikely to spread) and malignant (fast-growing, aggressive, and likely to spread).

Causes

This is a very rare tumor that occurs in children.

Tumors of the nervous system have different degrees of differentiation. The degree of differentiation is based on how the tumor cells look under the microscope. It can predict whether or not they are likely to spread.

Benign tumors are less likely to spread. Malignant tumors are aggressive, grow quickly, and often spread. A

is a benign tumor. A (occurring in children over 1 year old) is usually malignant.

A ganglioneuroblastoma may be only in one area or it may be widespread, but it is usually less aggressive than a neuroblastoma. The cause is unknown.

Symptoms

Most commonly, a lump can be felt in the abdomen.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider may do the following tests:

  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Bone scan
  • CT scan or MRI scan of the affected area
  • Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scan
  • Special blood and urine tests
  • Surgical biopsy to confirm diagnosis

Treatment

Depending on the type of tumor, treatment can involve surgery, and possibly chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Because these tumors are rare, they should be treated in a specialized center by experts who have experience with them.

Support Groups

Organizations that provide support and additional information:

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on how far the tumor has spread, and whether some areas of the tumor contain more aggressive cancer cells.

Possible Complications

Complications that may result include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you feel a lump or growth on your child's body. Make sure children receive routine examinations as part of their well-child care.

References

Dome JS, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Spunt SL, Santana VM. Pediatric solid tumors. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 95.

National Cancer Institute. PDQ Neuroblastoma treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified January 14, 2016. www.cancer.gov/types/neuroblastoma/hp/neuroblastoma-treatment-pdq. Accessed January 19, 2016.

Zage PE, Ater JL. Neuroblastoma. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:chap 498.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 12/23/2015
  • Adam S. Levy, MD, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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