What happens after treatment for neuroblastoma?
Many children with neuroblastoma have a good chance of long-term survival following treatment.
After treatment for neuroblastoma, the main concerns for most families are the short- and long-term effects of the tumor and its treatment, and concerns about the tumor coming back.
It is certainly normal to want to put the tumor and its treatment behind you and to get back to a life that doesn't revolve around cancer. But it's important to realize that follow-up care is a central part of this process that offers your child the best chance for recovery and long-term survival.
After treatment, the doctor will likely order follow-up tests, which may include lab tests and imaging tests (MIBG scans, PET scans, ultrasound, CT scans, and/or MRI scans) to see if there is any tumor remaining. The tests done will depend on the risk group, the size and location of the tumor, and other factors.
Because there is a chance that the cancer may return after treatment, it is very important to keep all follow-up appointments and to report any new symptoms to your child's doctor right away. The health care team will discuss a follow-up schedule with you, including which tests should be done and how often. Doctor visits, lab tests, and imaging tests to look for signs of recurrence are done more often at first. If nothing abnormal is found, the time between tests can then be extended.
A benefit of follow-up care is that it gives you a chance to discuss any questions and concerns that arise during and after your child’s recovery. For example, almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to several months, but others can be permanent. It is important to report any new symptoms to the doctor right away so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
It is also important to keep health insurance. Even though no one wants to think of the cancer coming back, it is a possibility. If it happens, the last thing you want is to have to worry about paying for treatment.
Last Medical Review: 10/29/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013