Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid tumor in childhood affecting about 7% of all children with cancer. It is the most common solid cancer in infants. There are over 700 cases each year in the U.S. Neuroblastoma most often originates in the adrenal glands, which are located on top of each kidney. However, tumors can begin anywhere in the body. Other common sites are the chest, neck and pelvis. While neuroblastoma may be found in only one spot in the body at the time of diagnosis in some patients, in others the cancer may have spread from its primary location to the lymph nodes, bone marrow, or bones. In Sweden, all children diagnosed with a neuroblastoma tumor are treated according to SIOPEN protocols after decision in the national collaborative solid tumour group, VSTB (Vårdplaneringsgruppen för Solida Tumörer hos Barn).
In cases of neuroblastoma without Myc-amplification, the cure rate is over 80%; however, when Myc is amplified, the cure rate drops to less than 30%. Despite intense chemotherapy and transplant procedures, the cure rate has remained unchanged for this sub-type. Dr. Graves examines the Myc gene to try to understand what it does that is different than cells with normal levels of Myc. His area of focus is on how Myc change mitochondria, a part of the cell that regulates cell death and provides cell energy. Since neuroblastoma often has few symptoms, it may spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body before it is found.