Neuroblastoma Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment - A Detailed Guide

The diagnosis of neuroblastoma is based on the combination of several methods, including clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, imaging studies, and biopsy. Neuroblastoma treatment in adults is almost similar to that in children. Neuroblastoma treatment cost depends upon several factors, including the stage of the disease, the location of the tumor, and the treatment options recommended.

What are the Neuroblastoma Cancer Diagnosis Tests?

Following are some of the methods for neuroblastoma diagnosis:

Physical Exam

Oncologists perform comprehensive physical examinations of patients suspected to have neuroblastoma or other underlying disorders that are causing the symptoms. The patients may be asked about the severity and progression of the symptoms. If the patient is a child, the parents are asked about symptoms, the onset of symptoms, and the family history of neuroblastoma. The doctor may check for any palpable mass or swelling in the abdomen. The blood pressure may also be determined, as patients with neuroblastoma have high blood pressure. The strength and movement of the legs are also evaluated, as neuroblastoma growing near the spine may cause muscle weakness in the legs.

Although neuroblastoma may result in enlarged lymph nodes and a high fever, doctors initially recommend checking for infection. Clinicians recommend blood tests, imaging tests, and biopsy in patients strongly suspected of having neuroblastoma or other cancers.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are not the confirmatory tests for neuroblastoma. However, they provide detailed information about the overall health of the patients. Further, blood tests also measure the level of certain substances for diagnosing neuroblastoma. However, the levels of these chemicals may also be elevated in conditions other than neuroblastoma.

An enzyme, Neuron-Specific Enolase (NSE), is elevated in various cases of neuroblastoma. This marker may be used to determine the progression of the disease and treatment response in patients with neuroblastoma. Further, the level of ferritin increases in patients with neuroblastoma.

The serum concentration of the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme is increased if there is any cellular injury or cell death. Patients with neuroblastoma may have elevated levels of the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme.

Chromogranin A is the protein synthesized and released by the neuroendocrine cells. The concentration of this substance may increase in patients with neuroblastoma.

Urine Test

In patients with neuroblastoma, malignant neuroblasts release certain substances detected in urine. Although elevated levels of these substances in urine are not exclusive to neuroblastoma, oncologists may recommend checking them to detect disease progression and treatment response.

Neuroblastoma cells release several catecholamines, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, resulting in their elevated levels in urine.

The metabolism of neurotransmitters results in several metabolites, such as homovanillic acid and vanillylmandelic acid. Measuring the urine concentration of these substances may be crucial for patients suspected of having neuroblastoma.

Imaging Tests

Imaging modalities play a role in diagnosing and monitoring neuroblastoma and evaluating treatment responses. The choice of imaging tests depends upon several factors, including the patient's age, the tumor's location and spread, and the requirement for specific information about treatment planning.

Nuclear Medicine Scans

Nuclear scans include MIBG scans and PET scans. A PET scan helps diagnose neuroblastoma by determining the areas with high metabolic activity. PET scans use a radioactive glucose analog, which is rapidly taken up by the malignant cells. It assists in staging the disease and allows the oncologists to deliver optimal treatment. The PET scan also determines the response to neuroblastoma treatment.


During a biopsy, the doctor obtains a sample of suspected or abnormal tissues and sends it to the laboratory for further investigation. A biopsy helps oncologists confirm the presence of neuroblastoma. Further, the biopsy also provides histopathological characteristics of the sample. It helps in developing an appropriate treatment strategy. The neuroblastoma diagnosis tests through biopsy include needle biopsy and surgical biopsy. In some cases, the biopsy may be guided by various imaging techniques, such as CT scans (CT-guided biopsy) and MRI (MRI-guided biopsy).

What are the Effective Neuroblastoma Cancer Treatments?

The following are the commonly recommended approaches for neuroblastoma cancer treatment:

Why Choose HCG for Neuroblastoma Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment?

Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer and may be fatal if left undiagnosed or untreated. HCG has all the facilities required for the appropriate diagnosis and management of neuroblastoma. Apart from pediatric oncologists, the care team also comprises pediatricians and pediatric surgeons in order to ensure that patients diagnosed with neuroblastoma receive the highest quality care possible. The hospital has advanced facilities for caring after surgery. HCG also offers various services to families, such as counseling services.


Methods for neuroblastoma diagnosis are physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, imaging modalities, and biopsy. The options for neuroblastoma cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplantation, and MIBG therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

The recurrence of neuroblastoma depends on several factors, including the stage of diagnosis and the histopathological characteristics of the tumor. Usually, high-risk tumors and tumors detected at advanced stages have a high risk of recurrence.

The duration of chemotherapy depends on the classification and stage of the disease. Patients with intermediate-risk neuroblastoma usually have 4 to 8 cycles of chemotherapy that are completed in about 12 to 24 weeks. However, this may vary from one patient to another.

Neuroblastoma is hard to diagnose as most of its symptoms overlap with those of other less serious conditions. Also, in most cases, early-stage neuroblastoma does not manifest symptoms.

Spontaneous mutations, chromosomal aberrations, and congenital anomalies may cause neuroblastoma.

The severity of the pain depends on the location and stage of the disease. For instance, pain may occur in the early stages if the tumor is present on the spine and compressing the nerves. In other cases, pain occurs when the tumor grows and compresses the surrounding tissues. This usually occurs at a later stage.