About Neuroblastoma

Disease Information

This area is dedicated in particular to patients and family members as aims to provide main indications and informations on the diseases that are at the heart of our focus, on the disgnosis and therapies used.
We firmly believe that information promotes a peaceful relationship between families, patients and our doctors, creating a fundamental therapeutic alliance in order to deal with the disease in a resolute and calm way.

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What is Neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma is a very aggressive childhood cancer: in Italy affects about 130 children every year. It is a rare tumor and represents the primary cause of death by illness for the pre-school age group.
Neuroblastoma is a subtle tumour with similar symptoms to influence ones: for this reason is often diagnosed late, when already presents itself with metastasis and healing it becomes really difficult.
Neuroblastoma is an excellent study model: it is in fact considered “a group of tumours” since holds all the genetic characteristics of nearly all paediatric solid tumours. Finding a permanent cure for Neuroblastoma means find a cure for all paediatric tumours.
During these years important progress has been made thanks to the research supported by the Association: we went from 25% in 90’s to 65% of today chance of survival at 5 years after the diagnosis for favorable prognosis cases and from 8 to 35-40% for children with aggressive cancer and poor prognosis. Every year in Italy it affects about 130 children and teenagers.

Neuroblastoma is a childhood tumor that affects children from 0 to 10 years of age. Along with brain tumors Neuroblastoma is considered the first cause of death and the third neoplasm by frequency after leukemias and Pediatric Brain Tumors.
The term Neuroblastoma refers to a group of malignant tumors more frequent in the first years of life, originating from the remnants of autonomic nervous system that develops during embryonic life.
This tumor originates from neuroblasts, cells located in sympathetic nervous system, a series of neuronal bundles spread throughout the body that control some involuntary functions such as breathing, digestion and heartbeat. Neuroblasts are immature or developing cells that are located in nerves and are widespread throughout the body: neck, adrenal glands, chest, spine.
For this reason Neuroblastoma can arise in different parts. Most cases of Neuroblastoma occur at adrenal glands level, which are located above kidneys, or in the nerve ganglia present in abdomen.
From the clinical point of view Neuroblastoma has some peculiarities:
Prognosis is very good in children under the year of life, regardless of metastic disease extent.
In the first year of life the disease can regress on it’s own even if disseminated.
In older children prognosis is decidedly unfavorable.

Paediatric Brain Tumours

What are paediatric brain tumours?

In addition to Neuroblastoma research, our Association supports “Progetto Pensiero” for help against paediatric brain tumours: thanks to our contribution misdiagnoses decreased from an initial 36% of ten years ago to 0%. However, there is still much to be done before finding a permanent cure for these diseases.
Paediatric Brain Tumors are a very diverse group of diseases, different from those of adults and much more rare. The diagnosis of a pediatric brain tumor can be difficult since there are over fifteen different histological types. In Italy the number of new cases per year is about 400.
The incidence of pediatric brain tumors is slightly higher among males than females and is higher in young children.
These include Medulloblastoma and ependymomas.
Medulloblastoma, which is the most frequent and common among pediatric brain tumors, forms in cerebellum. Due to alterations in Dna, some healthy nerve cells degenerate into cancer cells and begin to multiply uncontrollably.
Survival of Medulloblastoma at 5 years after diagnosis is around 60-70 percent. Ependymomas, on the other hand, are part of a group of tumors called “gliomas” that occur mainly within 6 years. Overall they account for 10% of all childhood tumors of central nervous system.
Survival at 5 years from diagnosis varies depending on the degree of ependymoma and, in the most favorable cases, can reach 75%. Relapses over 5 years are not uncommon.