What are the possible complications 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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The following complications may occur:

  • The most worrisome complication at disease presentation is cord compression from a paraspinal tumor. Evaluation of the patient by a neurosurgeon and consultation with a radiation oncologist are important.

  • In some individuals with neuroblastomas, early institution of chemotherapy is accepted if the tumor can be biopsied within 72 hours to make a diagnosis and to obtain necessary biologic studies. In the acute setting, chemotherapy may be as efficient as radiotherapy or laminectomy, and it may cause less morbidity. Treatment of cord compression with chemotherapy and steroids usually results in less complications; however, radiation therapy or surgery is often used as front-line treatment to prevent impending or progressive neurologic damage. In children who present with significant neurologic symptoms, none of these interventions assure a return of normal neurologic (motor) function.

  • Tumor lysis syndrome is unusual in neuroblastoma

  • Patients may present with severe hypertension or renal insufficiency, making initiation of chemotherapy, especially with platinum drugs, more difficult.

  • Myelosuppression and immunosuppression place the patient at risk of bleeding and infection. Febrile neutropenia is a medical emergency and requires immediate admission to the hospital and initiation of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment.

  • After several cycles of therapy, depending on drugs administered, patients may develop impaired renal function, hearing loss, or delayed count recovery.

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