Neuroblastoma is is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells most commonly found in or around the adrenal glands (which have similar origins to nerve cells and sit above the kidneys). Neuroblastoma can also develop in other areas of the abdomen and in the chest, neck and near the spine, where groups of nerve cells exist.

Neuroblastoma accounts for 7% to 10% of childhood cancers, with 800 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Neuroblastoma most commonly affects children age 5 or younger, though it may rarely occur in older children.

Neuroblastoma begins in neuroblasts — immature nerve cells that a fetus produces as part of its development process. As a fetus matures, these neuroblasts turn into nerve cells and fibers and the cells that make up the adrenal glands. Most neuroblasts mature by birth, but in children with Neuroblastoma, the neuroblasts form a tumor, called a neuroblastoma. Despite countless research studies, it still remains unclear what causes the initial genetic mutation that leads to neuroblastoma.

The signs and symptoms of neuroblastoma depend on where the tumor is located. Because they are similar to symptoms of other much more common childhood illnesses, making an accurate, timely diagnosis can be a difficult process. Symptoms include: abdominal pain and tenderness, constipation, weakness, irritability, fevers, and bruising easily.

Typically, high-dose chemotherapy and radiation are preferred modes of treatment. In recent decades, childhood cancer researchers have gotten better at delivering high-dose chemotherapy and radiation, but lack of research in children's cancers has prohibited the growth of knowledge about the diseases that affect children, and the best drugs to cure them. Therefore, (as is the reality with most pediatric cancers) children with neuroblastoma are forced to undergo harsh treatment regimens that are not tailored to their specific disease. The side effects of these treatments are unimaginable, and last for a lifetime.

Today, neuroblastoma remains a deadly disease. THIS MUST CHANGE. We need targeted and specific treatment options for children diagnosed with neuroblastoma, as well as all pediatric cancers.

It is our mission to further Neuroblastoma research to make a difference in Maxwell's honor!!