What Does It Mean to Have Neuroblastoma Stage 4 Cancer?


Quick Answer

In stage 4 of neuroblastoma, malignant cancer cells from nerve tissue have spread throughout the lymphatic system, states the National Cancer Institute. Stage 4S indicates that a child under 12 months old has liver, skin or bone marrow tumors concentrated in one area, making surgical removal a possible treatment.

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Full Answer

Neuroblastoma cancer forms in nerve tissue in the spinal cord, adrenal gland, chest or neck and typically affects children under age 5, according to the National Cancer Institute. Determining the stage of the cancer helps doctors choose the most effective treatment and predicts its chances of success. However, neuroblastoma staging and treatment are further evaluated based on low, intermediate and high-risk groups, influenced by factors such as the child’s age and the structure and biology of the tumors. As its name suggests, high-risk neuroblastoma is the most difficult form to cure.

Stage 4S is known as special neuroblastoma because the child meets a distinctly favorable set of criteria, increasing a doctor's chances of removing the cancerous cells all at once, the American Cancer Society explains. While tumors may have invaded the lymphatic system and other organs, imaging tests show that they are located on one side of the body, and only 10 percent or fewer cells are cancerous.

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