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Neuroblastoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment of Low-Risk Neuroblastoma

Standard Treatment Options

Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.

Recommended Related to Brain Cancer

Stage Information

There is no generally applied staging system for childhood craniopharyngiomas. Patients are classified as having newly diagnosed or recurrent disease.

Read the Stage Information article > >

In North America, the Children's Oncology Group (COG) investigated a risk-based neuroblastoma treatment plan that assigned all patients to a low-, intermediate-, or high-risk group based on age, International Neuroblastoma Staging System (INSS) stage, and tumor biology (i.e., MYCN gene amplification, International Neuroblastoma Pathology Classification [INPC] system, and DNA index). The low-risk group was observed without further treatment in most cases. Chemotherapy was given for four cycles (12 weeks) to treat patients with life- or organ-threatening neuroblastoma. (Risk Groups are defined in Table 1 in the Stage Information section of this summary.)

Patients with low-risk neuroblastoma have a cure rate higher than 90%.[1,2,3,4,5]

Studies suggest that selected presumed neuroblastomas detected in infants by screening may be safely observed without surgical intervention and without pathologic diagnosis.[6,7] A COG trial investigating systematic observation without diagnostic surgery for selected infants with presumed INSS stage 1 adrenal neuroblastoma detected by prenatal or perinatal ultrasound (COG-ANBL00P2) has met its patient accrual goals. Analysis of the trial is pending. There is some controversy whether additional surgical resection should be attempted in infants with localized MYCN-nonamplified tumors after biopsy or partial resection. A German clinical trial observed a group of these patients and some infants did not require further intervention, in part due to spontaneous regression.[8]

The treatment of children with low-risk stage 4S disease is dependent on clinical presentation.[9,10] Children who are clinically stable with this special pattern of neuroblastoma may not require therapy. The development of complications, such as functional compromise from massive hepatomegaly, is an indication for intervention, especially in infants younger than 2 to 3 months.[9,11,12] In a study of 80 infants with 4S disease, those who were asymptomatic had 100% survival with supportive care only, and patients with symptoms had an 81% survival rate when they received low-dose chemotherapy.[11] Resection of primary tumor is not associated with improved outcome.[9,10,11] In 45 patients with 4S neuroblastoma diagnosed in the first month of life, 16 patients developed dyspnea caused by massive liver enlargement; half of them did not survive.[13]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with neuroblastoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Matthay KK, Perez C, Seeger RC, et al.: Successful treatment of stage III neuroblastoma based on prospective biologic staging: a Children's Cancer Group study. J Clin Oncol 16 (4): 1256-64, 1998.
  2. Hayes FA, Green A, Hustu HO, et al.: Surgicopathologic staging of neuroblastoma: prognostic significance of regional lymph node metastases. J Pediatr 102 (1): 59-62, 1983.
  3. Evans AR, Brand W, de Lorimier A, et al.: Results in children with local and regional neuroblastoma managed with and without vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and imidazolecarboxamide. A report from the Children's Cancer Study Group. Am J Clin Oncol 7 (1): 3-7, 1984.
  4. Alvarado CS, London WB, Look AT, et al.: Natural history and biology of stage A neuroblastoma: a Pediatric Oncology Group Study. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 22 (3): 197-205, 2000 May-Jun.
  5. Perez CA, Matthay KK, Atkinson JB, et al.: Biologic variables in the outcome of stages I and II neuroblastoma treated with surgery as primary therapy: a children's cancer group study. J Clin Oncol 18 (1): 18-26, 2000.
  6. Nishihira H, Toyoda Y, Tanaka Y, et al.: Natural course of neuroblastoma detected by mass screening: s 5-year prospective study at a single institution. J Clin Oncol 18 (16): 3012-7, 2000.
  7. Holgersen LO, Subramanian S, Kirpekar M, et al.: Spontaneous resolution of antenatally diagnosed adrenal masses. J Pediatr Surg 31 (1): 153-5, 1996.
  8. Hero B, Simon T, Spitz R, et al.: Localized infant neuroblastomas often show spontaneous regression: results of the prospective trials NB95-S and NB97. J Clin Oncol 26 (9): 1504-10, 2008.
  9. Guglielmi M, De Bernardi B, Rizzo A, et al.: Resection of primary tumor at diagnosis in stage IV-S neuroblastoma: does it affect the clinical course? J Clin Oncol 14 (5): 1537-44, 1996.
  10. Katzenstein HM, Bowman LC, Brodeur GM, et al.: Prognostic significance of age, MYCN oncogene amplification, tumor cell ploidy, and histology in 110 infants with stage D(S) neuroblastoma: the pediatric oncology group experience--a pediatric oncology group study. J Clin Oncol 16 (6): 2007-17, 1998.
  11. Nickerson HJ, Matthay KK, Seeger RC, et al.: Favorable biology and outcome of stage IV-S neuroblastoma with supportive care or minimal therapy: a Children's Cancer Group study. J Clin Oncol 18 (3): 477-86, 2000.
  12. Hsu LL, Evans AE, D'Angio GJ: Hepatomegaly in neuroblastoma stage 4s: criteria for treatment of the vulnerable neonate. Med Pediatr Oncol 27 (6): 521-8, 1996.
  13. Gigliotti AR, Di Cataldo A, Sorrentino S, et al.: Neuroblastoma in the newborn. A study of the Italian Neuroblastoma Registry. Eur J Cancer 45 (18): 3220-7, 2009.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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