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Neuroblastoma in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Neuroblastoma in Adult

Contributors: Andrea Wasilewski MD, Jamie Adams MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Neuroblastoma is a neuroendocrine tumor that arises from neural crest cells. It is the most common solid tumor of infancy and childhood; typical age of onset is less than 3 years old. The adrenal glands are the most frequent site of origin, but this tumor can be found anywhere along the sympathetic nervous system chain including the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis. Presenting symptoms depend on the site of origin and areas of metastasis if present but may be nonspecific including fatigue, fevers, anorexia, abdominal pain, or joint or bone pains. Less common symptoms include weakness, ataxia, chronic diarrhea, hypertension, or shortness of breath. The presence of Horner syndrome or opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome in children should prompt evaluation for this type of tumor. Rarely, neuroblastoma may be an incidental finding on radiology.

Treatment and prognosis depend on whether the tumor is low, intermediate, or high risk. Metastases are associated with a high mortality rate.


C74.90 – Malignant neoplasm of unspecified part of unspecified adrenal gland

432328008 – Neuroblastoma

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Metastases
  • Neurofibroma (see Neurofibromatosis)
  • Lymphoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Porphyria (eg, Acute intermittent porphyria)
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Human immunodeficiency virus primary infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • Whipple disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic abuse (eg, Alcohol use disorder) / withdrawal syndromes (eg, Alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Opioid withdrawal syndrome)
  • Heavy metal toxicity (eg, Lead poisoning, Mercury poisoning, Arsenic poisoning)

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Last Reviewed:02/10/2019
Last Updated:04/25/2023
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Neuroblastoma in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Neuroblastoma : Abdominal pain, Fever, Joint pain, Abdominal mass, Bone pain, Hematuria, Regional lymphadenopathy, Thrombocytosis, Anemia, Proptosis
Imaging Studies image of Neuroblastoma - imageId=8343616. Click to open in gallery.  caption: '<span>T2 sagittal MRI of thorax showing large neuroblastoma along the mid thoracic spine.</span>'
T2 sagittal MRI of thorax showing large neuroblastoma along the mid thoracic spine.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.