How are neuroblastomas treated?
Treatment of neuroblastoma depends on several aspects of the cancer such as the risk group, the patient’s age, their overall health, and may include one or more forms of treatment.
Low risk cases are not very intensive and, due to the chance of the tumor maturing or going away on its own, have the possibility of not needing treatment at all! If the tumor needs to be removed, surgery may be required. Chemotherapy may also be used if the tumor does not go away after surgery or if the child starts showing symptoms. Children with low risk neuroblastomas should be watched carefully to ensure that the neuroblastoma safely goes away or is treated accordingly.
Intermediate risk cases require more intense treatment. Surgery is often necessary and mixed with other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is usually only required in cases of emergency or if the disease does not respond to chemotherapy.
High risk cases demand the most aggressive forms of treatment and involve a mix of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, immunotherapy, and retinoid therapy. Treatment is split up into three phases, the first being induction, in which the doctors will try to destroy as much of the cancer as possible to force the disease into remission. The second phase is consolidation, which uses more intensive treatments to clean up remaining cancer cells. The last phase is maintenance, which is focused on lowering the chance of the cancer coming back.