An aggressive form of cancer, neuroblastoma develops while the fetus is still growing. The baby’s nerves become cancerous and release some hormonal symptoms. However, because neuroblastoma is unique, different children suffer from a variety of symptoms. In some cases, cancerous cells grow slowly. In others, it divides and spreads quickly. Few patients overcome it. Children under the age of ten diagnosed with cancer often have some of the following symptoms of neuroblastoma. It is one of the primary tumors found in children younger than five. It also accounts for over 50 percent of cancer patients less than 12 months of age.
Persistent Bone Pain
Neuroblastoma often causes bone pain after the disease has metastasized to the bones. Children might even limp or fall because of the underlying pain. If the cancerous cells spread to the spinal cord, children suffer from numbness in both their legs and arms, which can eventually lead to complete paralysis. Neuroblastoma causes pain behind the eyes, too, particularly if it has traveled to that part of the body. The eyes may even bulge. If it’s present in the head, the child may have palpable lumps on the skull.
Abnormal bruising is a common symptom of cancer in any child. If neuroblastoma has spread to the bone marrow, it depletes blood cells and platelets. Therefore, patients are more susceptible to bruising because of the inadequate amount of blood. Infections quickly occur, too. Be cautious of unexplained bruising and infections. Bruising may reflect a late stage of neuroblastoma. The sooner a physician diagnoses the disease, the better the chance of recovery.
Constantly Feeling Sick
If your child feels sick on a regular basis, it might be something more serious. Neuroblastoma attacks healthy blood cells. This means it’s common to be tired, be weak and feel run down. Because patients do not have a healthy blood count, their entire medical foundation is off. This also causes fever, diarrhea and secondary infections. If your child has these symptoms on a frequent basis, seek medical attention.
Dancing Eyes and Feet Syndrome
Although it is a rare symptom of neuroblastoma, some patients report suffering from dancing eye and feet syndrome. The medical term for the condition is opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia. It occurs when children have the uncontrollable urge to twitch, especially their eyes and feet. Rapid eye movements, muscle spasms, and other unwanted jolts can cause problems with moving and walking. Other coordination issues include trouble speaking.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Any time cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, they become swollen with lumps. You may notice these visible bumps on your neck, collarbone, groin, or underarm depending on which part of the body is affected. Although neuroblastoma is characterized by swollen lymph nodes, you will have to take your child to a physician for further examination. However, swelling in the lymph nodes is also associated with infections in general. It’s important to get a medical professional to check the cause.
Breathing or Swallowing Issues
Like other symptoms on this list, neuroblastoma can cause mild to severe problems. If the patient suffers from tumors in the chest cavity, it results in breathing difficulties. Your child may sound loud when they breathe. If it is labored and hard for them to inhale or exhale, you need to go to the emergency room. Shortness of breath or dizziness may increase during walking and other times of movement. If the same symptom is present paired with trouble swallowing, the tumor may be in the throat, too. Children who cannot swallow drinks or saliva often are diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Bowel Problems including Constipation and Urinary Retention
Patients with growths in their stomachs usually have urinary and bowel difficulties. Children who are affected by the cancerous cells in their bellies experience digestive problems including constipation and urinary retention. If your child suffers from a blockage, your doctor will determine the source of the obstruction. Although there are numerous potential causes, neuroblastoma is one of them.
Weight Loss or a Failure to Gain Weight
Even though doctors use incremental weight charts, children tend to grow at a unique pace. They may gain weight in spurts as they get older, rather than periodically. However, when a child fails to gain weight over a sustainable amount of time, your doctor may question it. Whether your child loses weight or just fails to gain weight, they may be showing an underlying symptom of neuroblastoma.
Purple Skin Lesions
Bruising is a common symptom of neuroblastoma. However, having lumpy scratches is a rather uncommon one. Patients who do suffer from the symptom reported that the bumps are blue or purplish. The color is so distinct that the spots can resemble blueberries. However, the skin lesions are usually spread throughout the body in small areas.
Neuroblastoma present in the body means the blood does not clot properly. Therefore, patients tend to bleed more easily. If this type of cancer is active, a simple cut poses a major problem. Normally, band-aids are sufficient, but a child with neuroblastoma may need a stay in the hospital overnight. This can create severe lifestyle issues. A minor scratch will not stop bleeding on its own, which poses a set of problems on its own. This type of free-flowing blood often indicates the sign of a large tumor. If your child has a small lesion that does not clot after minutes of hard pressure, visit an emergency room immediately.