Saturday, August 1, 2009

Can Neuroblastoma Be Found Early? What every parent should know!

More information from the American Cancer Society:

Can Neuroblastoma Be Found Early?

Researchers have done studies to see if screening infants for neuroblastoma might result in earlier diagnosis and better treatment results. Screening is the search for disease, such as cancer, in people without symptoms. One way to screen for neuroblastoma is to test children's urine for certain substances made by neuroblastoma tumors. (For more information on this urine test, see the section, "How is neuroblastoma diagnosed?")

Studies did not find neuroblastoma screening to be helpful. Testing infants when they were 6 months old did find a large number of cases that wouldn't have normally been diagnosed. But most of the tumors found by this method were of a type that would probably go away or mature into a benign tumor on their own and would likely never have caused any problems. The screening didn't lower the number of cases found at advanced stages or save lives.

What's more, for every 2 children identified by screening tests as possibly having neuroblastoma, only 1 actually develops a serious problem. These "false positive" results may needlessly frighten parents and can lead to unnecessary tests and surgery in children whose tumor would regress naturally.

For these reasons, most experts do not recommend screening for neuroblastoma in infants at average risk of the disease.

In rare instances, neuroblastoma is found before birth during an ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to create an image of the internal organs of a fetus. Ultrasounds are usually done to estimate the age of a fetus, predict the date of birth, and look for certain common birth defects. Improvements in ultrasound technology or other methods may lead to more accurate prenatal (before birth) testing for this disease.

Neuroblastoma is sometimes found by accident in young children without any symptoms during tests done to find other childhood diseases. These children will usually have a good outcome and may not even need treatment. However, in most cases, neuroblastoma is detected because it causes certain symptoms that indicate the child is ill (see the section, "How is neuroblastoma diagnosed?").

Last Medical Review: 10/22/2008
Last Revised: 10/22/2008

I got this information from the American Cancer Society website.



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