There are different types of treatment for patients with neuroblastoma.
Different types of treatment are available for patients with neuroblastoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.
For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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Because cancer in children is rare, taking part in a clinical trial should be considered. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Children with neuroblastoma should have their treatment planned by a team of doctors with expertise in treating childhood cancer.
Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other pediatric health care providers who are experts in treating children with neuroblastoma and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include the following specialists:
Children who are treated for neuroblastoma may be at higher risk for second cancers.
Some cancer treatments cause side effects that continue or appear years after cancer treatment has ended. These are called late effects. Late effects of cancer treatment may include:
Changes in mood, feelings, thinking, learning, or memory.
Second cancers (new types of cancer).
Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important that parents of children who are treated for neuroblastoma talk with their doctors about the possible late effects caused by some treatments. See the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information.
Five types of standard treatment are used:
Surgery is usually used to treat neuroblastoma. Depending on where the tumor is and whether it has spread, as much of the tumor as is safely possible will be removed. If the tumor cannot be removed, a biopsy may be done instead.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Neuroblastoma is sometimes treated with radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy, which carries radiation directly to tumor cells. RAI collects in certain kinds of tumor cells, killing them with the radiation that is given off. Before a full treatment dose of RAI is given, a small test-dose is given to see if the tumor takes up iodine.