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Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a tumor of nerve tissue that develops in infants and children and can occur in many areas of the body. It develops from the tissues that form the sympathetic nervous system (which controls body functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure, digestion and levels of certain hormones). It most commonly begins in the abdomen in the tissues of the adrenal gland, but it may also occur in other areas (source: http://www.chop.edu/service/oncology/our-programs/refractory-neuroblastoma-program.html)

Neuro stands for nerve, blastoma means development of embryonic cells.

A (child’s) body consists of billions of cells. These cells divide continuously making new cells every day. In a healthy body the cell division is in balance. Worn-out cells are replaced and there are no more cells than necessary. This equilibrium is disturbed when it comes to cancer. There is an uncontrolled cell division and cell growth. In a neuroblastoma affects the immature cells of the autonomic nervous system. One of these cells will lead its own life, divides rapidly and eventually forms a tumor.

Neuroblastoma is probaply caused by a fault in development in the primitive nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous system.  It is likely that the hereditary material, DNA or chromosomes within the core of the cell have suffered damage even before birth.

Yearly approximately 25 to 30 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Half of these children are under two years of age.