What Is It?
Neuroblastoma is a cancer that starts in primitive nerve cells. It affects infants (younger than a year old) and children. It rarely occurs after age 10. On average, children with the disease are diagnosed between 1 and 2 years old.
Neuroblastoma often starts in the nerves in the adrenal glands. People have two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. These glands produce hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and the way the body reacts to stress. When a neuroblastoma starts in an adrenal gland, it usually grows into a large, firm mass that presses on other organs.
The disease can develop in other areas of the body, including the nerves near the backbone and in the spinal cord. It can also develop in the abdomen, chest, neck, and pelvis, but this is less common.