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Neuroblastoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for Neuroblastoma


Other staging tests and procedures

Other tests and procedures used to stage neuroblastoma include the following:

  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: Bone marrow is assessed by bilateral iliac crest marrow aspirates and trephine (core) bone marrow biopsies to exclude bone marrow involvement. To be considered adequate, core biopsy specimens must contain at least 1 cm of marrow, excluding cartilage. Bone marrow sampling may not be necessary for tumors that are otherwise stage 1.[10]
  • Lumbar puncture: Lumbar puncture is avoided because central nervous system (CNS) metastasis at diagnosis is rare,[11] and lumbar puncture may be associated with an increased incidence of subsequent development of CNS metastasis.[12]
  • Lymph node assessment: Palpable lymph nodes are clinically examined and histologically confirmed if indicated for staging.[1]
  • CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan:
    • Three-dimensional (3-D) imaging of the primary tumor and potential lymph node drainage sites is done using CT scans and/or MRI scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Ultrasound is considered suboptimal for accurate 3-D measurements.
    • Paraspinal tumors may extend through neural foramina to compress the spinal cord. Therefore, MRI of the spine adjacent to any paraspinal tumor is part of the staging evaluation.
    • A brain/orbit CT and/or MRI is performed if clinically indicated by examination and/or uptake on mIBG scan.

International Neuroblastoma Staging Systems

International Neuroblastoma Staging System (INSS)

The INSS has replaced the previously used Evans and Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) staging systems. The INSS is described in Table 3 and represents the first step in harmonizing risk stratification worldwide. The INSS is a postoperative staging system that was developed in 1988 and used the extent of surgical resection to stage patients. This led to variability in stage assignments in different countries, and INSS staging was also affected by access to experienced pediatric surgeons. As a result of further advances in the understanding of neuroblastoma biology and genetics, a new risk classification system was developed that incorporates newer biological factors into the INSS and reaches consensus on the criteria for defining each of these guidelines.

INSS combines certain features of the previously used Evans and POG systems [1,13] and has identified distinct prognostic groups (refer to Table 3).[1,13,14,15]

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