Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Unusual Cancers of Childhood (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Unusual Cancers of the Head and Neck


See the PDQ summary on adult Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment for more information.


Esthesioneuroblastoma (olfactory neuroblastoma) is a tumor that begins in the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb connects to the nerve that is important to the sense of smell. Even though it is rare, esthesioneuroblastoma is the most common tumor of the nasal cavity in children.

Most children have a tumor in the nose or throat at the time of diagnosis. The tumor may spread into the bone around the eyes, sinuses, and the front part of the brain. The disease rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Esthesioneuroblastoma is more common in boys and usually appears during the teen years.

Symptoms and Staging Tests

Esthesioneuroblastoma may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if you see any of the following problems in your child:

  • Blocked nose.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Loss of the sense of smell.
  • Bulging of the eye.
  • Frequent sinus infections.

Other conditions that are not esthesioneuroblastoma may cause these same symptoms.

Esthesioneuroblastoma has usually spread by the time it is diagnosed. Tests to stage esthesioneuroblastoma may include the following:

  • PET-CT scan: Sometimes a PET scan and a CT scan are done at the same time. If there is any cancer, this increases the chance that it will be found.

See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.


The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on whether the cancer is only in the nose or if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.


Treatment of esthesioneuroblastoma in children may include the following:

  • Surgery and radiation therapy. Newer treatments include sinus surgery done through an endoscope, radiosurgery, or proton beam radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy before or after surgery to remove the cancer, in children with advanced cancer.

Thyroid Tumors

Thyroid tumors form in the tissues of the thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat near the windpipe. The thyroid gland makes important hormones that help control growth, heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy.

Most childhood thyroid tumors occur in girls and children aged 15 to 19 years. Thyroid tumors may be adenomas (noncancer) or carcinomas (cancer).

  • Adenoma: Adenomas can grow very large and sometimes make hormones. Adenomas may become malignant (cancer) and spread to the lungs or lymph nodes in the neck. Thyroid cancer usually grows and spreads slowly.
  • Carcinoma: There are 3 types of thyroid cancer:
    • Papillary.
    • Follicular.
    • Medullary.

Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Diagnostic and Staging Tests

The risk of thyroid cancer is increased by being exposed to radiation and by certain genetic syndromes, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2A syndrome or multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2B syndrome. See the Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndromes and Carney Complex section of this summary for more information.


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.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas