Neuroblastoma: A 20-year experience in a UK regional centre

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The role of surgery in the management of neuroblastoma yields conflicting reports. We report a 20-year experience from a UK centre in the context of evolving cancer therapies for neuroblastoma.


Hospital records of 91 neuroblastoma patients from 1985 to 2005 were studied. Patient demographics, data from operating notes and tumour biology (MYCN status) where available were analysed.


Surgery consisted of primary resection or delayed operation following tumour biopsy/chemotherapy. Overall survival was 100% for stage 1(n = 3), 90% for stage 2 (n = 10), 46% for stage 3 (n = 13), 13% for stage 4 (n = 55) and 56% for stage 4S disease (n = 9). During the eras 1985–1994 versus 1995–2005, survival for stage 3 lesions was 25% and 80% (P = 0.04) with marginal increase in survival observed in stage 4 disease (12% vs. 22%, P = 0.083). Delayed tumour resection was not performed in 20 (36%) stage 4 patients due to progressive disease. Complete tumour resection was achieved in 62% of stage 3–4 patients during 1995–2005 compared to 38% in 1985–1994. The extent of surgical resection (complete vs. partial) showed no significant differences in overall survival or relapse rates. Postoperative morbidity occurred in 15.7% of cases emphasising technical challenges in resection of neuroblastoma. No child with MYCN amplification survived versus 59% survival in non-amplified cases (P = 0.012).


While complete tumour resection may be desirable in advanced neuroblastoma (stage 3–4) these findings suggest that the radicality of operation is not significantly associated with better overall survival/relapse. Improving outcomes in the 1995–2005 era for patients with stage 3–4 tumours complements the introduction of new high dose-intensive chemotherapy regimens and other adjuvant therapies for this enigmatic disease. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011; 57: 1254–1260. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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