About Neuroblastoma About Neuroblastoma Home What is Neuroblastoma? Neuroblastoma is a rare type of childhood cancer that develops from nerve cells, left behind from a baby’s development in the womb, called neuroblasts. Neuroblastoma can occur anywhere in the body- tumours normally start in the abdomen, particularly in the adrenal glands or in nerve tissue located around the spine and pelvis. In some cases, neuroblastoma can spread to other areas in the body such as the bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes and skin. Most cases occur in children under the age of 5, with occurrences in teenagers and adults being much rarer. Around 100 children in the UK are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year. This represents 6% of all childhood cancer diagnoses. The 5-year survival rate for neuroblastoma is around 70%, as reported in the latest National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service publication. This however is an average statistic, and neuroblastoma is a highly variable disease with some cases going away without any intervention, whilst others need extremely intensive treatment and even then, may not be gotten rid of completely. Unfortunately for these latter cases, classed as high-risk neuroblastoma, the overall survival is only 49%. You can read more about the different types of neuroblastoma and how they differ here. What causes neuroblastoma? Neuroblastoma tumours form when developmental nerve cells grow and divide uncontrollably. The cause of this isn’t exactly known, and as with many childhood cancers, there isn’t any strong link to environmental factors.