What is the pathophysiology of pediatric neuroblastoma

Updated: Oct 09, 2017
  • Author: Norman J Lacayo, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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More than 90% of patients have elevated homovanillic acid (HVA) and/or vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) levels detectable in urine. Mass screening studies using urinary catecholamines in neonates and infants in Japan, Quebec, and Europe have demonstrated the ability to detect neuroblastoma before it is clinically apparent. However, most of the tumors identified occur in infants with a good prognosis. None of these studies shows that mass screening decreases deaths due to high-risk neuroblastoma.

Markers associated with a poor prognosis include (1) elevated ferritin levels, (2) elevated serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels, and (3) elevated serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE) levels. However, these markers have become less important due to the discovery of more relevant biomarkers (ie, chromosomal and molecular markers). In fact, ferritin was not included in the recent formulation of the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Classification System because it was not found to be of prognostic difference in the high-risk group.

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