Your child’s treatment for neuroblastoma will depend on whether your child’s disease is considered low risk, intermediate risk or high risk. Doctors determine the risk level based on your child’s age at diagnosis, the stage of the disease and characteristics of the cancer cells. Your child’s doctor can explain your child’s risk level and how it was determined.
Here is a summary of the most common treatments for childhood neuroblastoma. All of these are offered through Seattle Children’s, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization. You will find information in this section about each of these forms of treatment.
- Low-risk neuroblastoma: Most children with low-risk disease have surgery to remove their primary tumor. Some have chemotherapy or radiation therapy, too. Some children with a certain form of low-risk neuroblastoma have tumors that go away on their own. For children with this form, doctors may suggest “watchful waiting.” This refers to the practice of closely monitoring the child’s cancer, without treatment, to see whether it changes.
- Intermediate-risk neuroblastoma: Children with intermediate-risk neuroblastoma usually have surgery and chemotherapy. Some have radiation therapy, too.
- High-risk neuroblastoma: Treatment for high-risk disease usually involves some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell or bone-marrow transplant, and new treatments.
More than 90 percent of children with low-risk disease survive. About 70 to 90 percent of those with intermediate-risk disease survive. Children in the high-risk group have a 30 percent chance of survival.
As is true for most forms of childhood and adolescent cancer, most children with neuroblastoma are treated through clinical trials. Information in this section explains why. There are links here to help you learn more about clinical trials and consider this option for your child.
Children with neuroblastoma usually have surgery. The first surgery your child has may be a biopsy, in which a small sample of tumor cells is removed and checked for cancer.
your child’s doctors may recommend chemotherapy as the primary treatment or they may recommend using chemotherapy before, during, or after other treatments.
Your child’s doctors may recommend treating neuroblastoma with radiation therapy, in addition to surgery, chemotherapy, or both.
Many families consider using complementary and integrative medicine as part of a child’s care during cancer treatment. Your first step if you are using or thinking of using complementary medicine is to talk with your child’s doctor.