Skip to content

Brain Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Neuroblastoma Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Significance

Incidence and Mortality

About 7% of all malignancies in children younger than 15 years are neuroblastomas. About one quarter of cancers in the first year of life are neuroblastomas, making this the most frequent histological type of infant cancer.[1,2] The incidence rate of the disease in children younger than 1 year is about 35 per million but declines rapidly with age to about 1 per million between ages 10 and 14 years.[3] Males appear to be affected slightly more commonly than females, with about five cases occurring in boys to every four occurring in girls.

Recommended Related to Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer Clinical Trials

Major pharmaceutical companies continually research and develop new medications and treatments for brain cancer, which must be shown to be safe and effective before doctors can prescribe them to patients. Through clinical trials, researchers test the effects of new medications on a group of volunteers with brain cancer. Following a strict protocol and using carefully controlled conditions, researchers evaluate the investigational drugs under development and measure the ability of the new drug to...

Read the Brain Cancer Clinical Trials article > >

Screening Method and Sensitivity

The risk factors for and causes of neuroblastoma have not been established, and therefore it is not possible to provide information or advice for the primary prevention of this disease. It is generally thought that many neuroblastomas are present and detectable at birth, thereby allowing for detection of tumors by a single, once-in-a-lifetime screening test, such as those used for neonatal screening for noncancerous conditions (e.g., phenylketonuria). Screening is performed through biochemical tests for metabolites of norepinephrine and dopamine (i.e., vanillylmandelic acid [VMA], and homovanillic acid [HVA]). Seventy-five percent to 90% of cases of neuroblastoma excrete these substances into the urine, which can be measured in urine specimens.[4] There is no known optimal age for screening, but the most commonly discussed and studied age for a one-time screen has been 6 months. Screening at 12 months has also been evaluated in a population-based study in Germany.[5] Approximately 65% of cases are present before 6 months.[6] Furthermore, the clinical significance of screen-detected neuroblastomas is in question since stage I and II localized tumors less than 5 cm have been observed to regress without treatment in an observational study.[7]

Testing of liquid urine samples or of samples collected on filter paper for VMA and HVA is possible.[8] The first attempts to conduct mass screening through urinary testing occurred in Japan in the early 1970s.[9] The VMA and HVA levels are usually measured by gas chromatography, thin layer chromatography, and/or high performance liquid chromatography.

    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    doctor and patient
    How to know when it’s time for home care
    doctory with x-ray
    Here are 10 to know.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    Malignant Gliomas
    Article
    Pets Improve Your Health
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Headache Emergencies
    Video
    life after a brain tumor
    VIDEO
     

    Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?