If your child has neuroblastoma, your child’s doctors may recommend chemotherapy as the primary treatment or they may recommend using chemotherapy before, during, or after other treatments. Doctors sometimes use chemotherapy before surgery to shrink tumor size and after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain in the child’s body. Chemotherapy can also be used along with radiation therapy.
Anti-cancer drugs, or chemotherapy, can be given to children intravenously, as an injection under the skin or in the muscle, or by mouth. These medicines are distributed throughout the body through the bloodstream. They can help kill cancer cells that are in the blood as well as those that may have spread to other areas. The exact combination of drugs and how long they are given depend on the type of neuroblastoma your child has. Researchers are studying new combinations of chemotherapy drugs in order to find the most effective combinations for different types of the disease.
Children with immediate-risk neuroblastoma are often treated with carboplatin (Paraplatin), etoposide (VP-16, VePesid, Etopophos, Toposar), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar), or doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex).
Children with high-risk neuroblastoma are often treated with cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar), ifosfamide (Ifex, Holoxan), cisplatin (Platinol), carboplatin (Paraplatin), vincristine (Oncovin), doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex), melphalan (Alkeran), etoposide (VP-16, VePesid, Etopophos, Toposar), teniposide (VM-26, Vumon), or topotecan (Hycamtin).
There are side effects to this treatment, but your doctor will be able to provide medications to help your child feel better. Chemotherapy may lower your child's resistance to infection, however, and make them feel tired.
Our childhood neuroblastoma patients receive chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization. Depending on the type of chemotherapy, your child may be able to receive treatment as an outpatient or may need to stay at the hospital as an inpatient.