As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly. While prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are of utmost importance, prognosis depends upon a wide range of factors. These include:
- Extent of disease
- Size and location of the tumor
- Presence or absence of metastases
- Type of pathology (favorable or unfavorable)
- Biological factors, such as the number of copies per tumor cell of the N-myc oncogene, which is a tumor-specific protein
- Response of the tumor to therapy
- Child's tolerance of specific medications, procedures, and therapies
Depending on various prognostic factors, children are considered to be in low-, medium- or high-risk categories, and different treatment protocols have been developed for each risk group.
With current therapies, low-risk patients (stages 1 and 2) carry more than a 90 percent long-term survival rate, regardless of age.
In higher-risk patients with more advanced stages of disease, survival rates diminish. Treatment for children in the more advanced stages of neuroblastoma is much more aggressive, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and blood and marrow transplantation.
Despite treatment, however, the more advanced stages of neuroblastoma have a much less optimistic prognosis.