Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, with tumours more often than not occurring in the adrenal glands or abdomen. Abdominal pain or the recognition of an abdominal often leads to diagnosis. Definitive diagnosis is made a biopsy of a child’s tumour or bone marrow. The significant heterogeneity between patients translates into diverse progress and outcomes in each case. Tragically, in the majority of cases the disease has already spread by the time of diagnosis, meaning many children fall into the high risk category. Metastatic sites often include the bones and bone marrow, sometimes the lungs and lymph nodes and less frequently the brain. Neuroblastoma is aggressive and malignant, with half of all neuroblastoma all cases classified as high risk, and necessitating treatment immediately.
Unfortunately the prognosis for patients within the high-risk group accounting for more than 50% of all NBL patients remains poor despite the introduction of more intensive chemotherapy regimens with radical surgery procedures and megachemotherapy with subsequent stem cell transplantation. Along with other factors, the occurrence of this gene is used to classify patients into risk groups, which relate to the expected severity of their condition. These other risk factors include age, tumor pathology, genetics and the stage which the disease has already reached. The heterogeneity of the cancer, and its distinctly different features from adult cancers, make it difficult for doctors to give reliable prognoses.