Oncological diseases, including neuroblastoma, are among the most severe. Such pathologies are of particular importance in children’s practice.
What it is?
Neuroblastoma is one of the neoplasms. According to the classification of oncological pathologies, this disease is malignant. This suggests that the course of the disease is very dangerous. Most often, these malignant tumors are recorded in newborns and in children under three years of age.
The course of neuroblastoma is quite aggressive. Predict the outcome and prognosis of the disease is impossible. Neuroblastomas are malignant neoplasms that are related to embryonic tumors. They affect the sympathetic nervous system. Neuroblastoma growth is usually rapid.
However, doctors note one surprising property – the ability to regress. According to statistics, retroperitoneal neuroblastoma occurs most frequently. It occurs, on average, in 85% of cases. The defeat of the ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system due to intensive growth of tumors is less common. Adrenal neuroblastoma occurs in 15-18% of cases.
The incidence in the general population is relatively low. Only one born baby out of one hundred thousand gets a neuroblastoma. The spontaneous transition of a malignant tumor to a benign tumor is also another mystery of this disease.
In the course of time, even with an initially unfavorable prognosis, the disease can turn into a milder form — ganglioneuroma.
Most of the cases, unfortunately, occur quite rapidly and unfavorably. The tumor is characterized by the appearance of a large number of metastases that occur in a variety of internal organs. In this case, the prognosis of the disease deteriorates significantly. Various types of intensive treatment are used to eliminate metastatic cells.
Scientists did not come to a consensus on what causes neuroblastoma in children. Currently, there are several scientific theories that provide a rationale for the mechanism and causes of the occurrence of malignant tumors in babies. Thus, according to the hereditary hypothesis in families where there are cases of neuroblastoma, the risk of the birth of babies, in which this disease subsequently develops, significantly increases. However, the probability of this is quite low. It does not exceed 2-3%.
Some experts say that intrauterine infections may contribute to the emergence of various genetic abnormalities. They cause mutations in the genes that lead to a violation of the coding of the main features. Exposure to mutagenic and carcinogenic environmental factors only increases the possibility of having a child with a neuroblastoma. Usually this condition is associated with impaired division and proliferation of adrenal cells in the period of intrauterine growth. “Immature” cellular elements are simply not able to perform their functions, which causes pronounced disorders and abnormalities in the work of the adrenal glands and kidneys.
European researchers believe that the cause of neuroblastoma in babies can be a gene breakdown that occurred during the embryonic stage. At the time of conception, two genetic apparatus merge – the maternal and the father. If at this time there are any mutagenic factors, then mutations appear in the newly formed daughter cell. Ultimately, this process leads to disruption of cell differentiation and the development of neuroblastoma.
Mutagenic or carcinogenic factors during pregnancy have a significant effect.
So, scientists have found that smoking a mother while carrying a future baby increases the risk of having a baby with neuroblastoma.
Living in environmentally unfriendly areas or the strongest constant stress has a negative effect on the body of a pregnant woman. In some cases, it can also lead to the birth of a child with a neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma can be localized in many organs. If the tumor has developed in the adrenal glands or in the chest, then talk about the sympathoblastoma. This form of the disease can cause dangerous complications. With an excessive increase in the adrenal glands in the amount of paralysis develops. If there is a tumor in the retroperitoneal space, they talk about neurofibrosarcoma. It causes numerous metastases, which are mainly localized in the lymphatic system and bone tissue.
There are several stages of the disease:
- Stage 1 Characterized by the presence of tumors up to ½ cm in size. At this stage of the disease there is no lesion of the lymphatic system and distant metastases. The prognosis for this stage is favorable. When conducting a radical treatment, the survival rate of babies is quite high.
- Stage 2. It is divided into two substages – A and B. It is characterized by the appearance of a neoplasm, from ½ to 1 cm in size. There are no lesions of the lymphatic system and distant metastases. Eliminated by surgery. Stage 2B also requires chemotherapy.
- Stage 3. Characterized by the appearance of tumors more or less than a centimeter in conjunction with other signs. At this stage lymph nodes are already involved in the process. Distant metastases are absent. In some cases, the disease proceeds without involvement of the lymph nodes in the process.
- Stage 4. It is characterized by multiple foci or one solid large neoplasm. Lymph nodes may be involved in the tumor process. At this stage, metastases appear. The chance of recovery in this case is virtually absent. The forecast is extremely unfavorable.
The course and development of the disease depends on many underlying factors.
The prognosis of the disease is affected by the localization of the tumor, its clinical form, the age of the baby, cellular histological proliferation, the stage of tumor growth, and more.
Predicting how the disease will proceed in each case is very difficult. Even experienced oncologists often make mistakes when they talk about the prognosis of the disease and the further outcome.
Signs of neuroblastoma may not be characteristic. The course of the disease gives way to periods of remission and relapse. In a period of complete calm, the severity of adverse symptoms is negligible. A child can lead a normal life. During relapse, the baby’s condition worsens dramatically. In this case, emergency consultation with an oncologist and possible hospitalization in the oncology department for treatment is required.
The clinical manifestations of neuroblastoma are numerous and varied. Usually, an extremely unfavorable course is accompanied by the appearance of several symptoms simultaneously. In the fourth stage of the disease, characterized by the appearance of metastases, the clinical signs can be expressed significantly and significantly disturb the behavior of the child.