Symptoms and diagnosis

Neuroblastoma signs and symptoms

Neuroblastoma is the most common tumor in infants and young children occurring outside the central nervous system. It is usually diagnosed before the age of 5 and most commonly develops in the abdomen or along the spine.

Neuroblastoma symptoms vary depending on the location of the tumors in the body. Symptoms might include:

  • Unusual lump or mass

  • Swollen stomach or belly pain

  • Problems breathing or swallowing

  • Weight loss or lack of appetite

  • Swelling in the face or throat

  • Chronic fatigue and general aches and pains

  • Problems with urination or bowel movements

Diagnosing neuroblastoma

Your child’s doctor will do a full physical exam and take a detailed medical history. Additional tests could include:

  • Urine test, to determine a substance called catecholamines that is produced by the tumor

  • Blood tests

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

  • X-rays

  • Bone scan

  • Biopsy of the tumor

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UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.


Neuroblastoma treatment

Treatment for neuroblastoma is specific to your child’s needs. It could include:

  • Surgery: When the tumor is in an area that doctors can reach safely, surgery will be done to remove as much of the tumor as possible. 

  • Radiation therapy: High energy X-rays are used to shrink tumors and prevent them from growing

  • Chemotherapy

  • Immunotherapy

  • Bone marrow transplant

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Clinical trials

We offer the most advanced treatment options. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Find neuroblastoma clinical trials


Care for your child

Receiving care from the UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant program at American Family Children’s Hospital means you have access to the knowledge and skills of many medical and support specialists for your child’s complex health diagnosis like cancer.

Meet our team

An experienced team providing your child with the care they deserve

Our pediatric oncologists are part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, which is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation means that the doctors taking care of your child are experts in cancer treatment, research and education.

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

When your child needs hospitalization, they will be admitted to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Child life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties. The American Family Children's Hospital patient and family visitor guide features information about:

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Restoring Hope Transplant House (for blood and bone marrow transplant)

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources

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Pediatric cancer services

With our expertise comes compassion. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We will be by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we will care for your child as if they are our own.

Learn more