Children with neuroblastoma and their families have special needs. These needs can be met best by cancer centers for children, working closely with the child’s primary care doctor. These centers have teams of specialists who understand the differences between cancers in adults and those in children, as well as the unique needs of younger people with cancer.
Treating neuroblastoma is complex and often requires the expertise of many different doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. The doctors on the treatment team often include:
- A pediatric cancer surgeon
- A pediatric oncologist (doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat childhood cancers)
- A pediatric radiation oncologist (doctor who uses radiation therapy to treat cancer in children)
Many other specialists may be involved in your child’s care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, and other health professionals. You can read more about this in Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Understanding the Health Care System.
The types of treatment used for neuroblastoma can include:
- Radiation therapy
- High-dose chemotherapy/radiation therapy and stem cell transplant
- Retinoid therapy
Treatment of neuroblastoma depends on the risk group of the cancer, the child’s age, and other factors, and might include more than one type of treatment. (Treatment based on the risk group is discussed here.)
Your child’s cancer care team will discuss the treatment options with you. It’s important to discuss these options and their possible side effects with your child’s doctors so you can make an informed decision. (For a list of some questions to ask, see What Should You Ask Your Child’s Doctor About Neuroblastoma?)
Thinking about a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for your child, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see Clinical Trials to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your child’s cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
The cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your child’s care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.