Treatment for neuroblastoma often is complex. MD Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Hospital offers a team approach to neuroblastoma, bringing together some of the nation’s top experts to personalize your child’s course of treatment.
Your child’s care team will feature several physicians, including oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists, as well as a highly specialized support staff. Their aim is to deliver therapies with the highest chance for success and the least impact on the growing body.
Surgical skill is key
Like all surgeries, neuroblastoma surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure.
The surgeons at Children’s Cancer Hospital are highly specialized in neuroblastoma, and they are among the most skilled and renowned in the world. They perform a high number of surgeries for neuroblastoma each year, using the least-invasive and most advanced techniques.
We offer a range of clinical trials of innovative therapies for neuroblastoma, including high-risk, progressive and recurrent forms of the disease.
Our neuroblastoma treatments
Your child’s care for neuroblastoma will be customized to provide the most effective treatment with the least effect on the body. Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. These are based on:
- Your child’s age and health
- The size, location and features of the tumor
- Whether the cancer has spread
Some low-risk neuroblastoma tumors will go away without any treatment, and others may be cured by surgery alone. However, many times the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and will require intensive combinations of treatment.
Neuroblastoma treatment often includes surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Surrounding lymph nodes also may be removed to find out if the cancer has spread.
Sometimes, the entire tumor can be removed. However, if the tumor is close to important parts of the body or large blood vessels, only partial removal may be possible. In these cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are given after surgery.
Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery to make the tumor smaller and easier to remove.
Neuroblastoma often spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver, bones or lungs, before it is diagnosed. Chemotherapy travels all through the body, and that makes it effective in treating neuroblastoma.
Children’s Cancer Hospital offers the most up-to-date and advanced chemotherapy options for neuroblastoma. Chemotherapy may be given:
- Before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy)
- After surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy)
- As the main treatment if the cancer cannot be removed by surgery
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. New radiation therapy techniques, including proton therapy, and remarkable skill allow Children’s Cancer Hospital doctors to target neuroblastoma tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.
Some children with neuroblastoma receive radiation therapy:
- After surgery to stop or slow the growth of tumors that cannot be treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy
- After a stem-cell transplant
- To help with symptoms such as pain and breathing difficulties
Children with advanced neuroblastoma may sometimes benefit from MIBG radiotherapy. A radioactive chemical is injected into the blood and travels directly to neuroblastoma tumor cells in the body.
High-dose chemotherapy/radiation therapy and stem cell transplant
Children with treatment-resistant, advanced neuroblastoma may benefit from a stem cell transplant.
Treatment with vitamin A or a vitamin A-like compound may be used in some patients.
Children’s Cancer Hospital is leading into the future of neuroblastoma treatment by developing innovative targeted therapies. These agents are specially designed to treat each cancer’s specific genetic/molecular profile to help your child’s body fight the disease. Many of the doctors who treat neuroblastoma at Children’s Cancer Hospital are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials with novel targeted agents.