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Anticancer Res. 1987 May-Jun;7(3 Pt B):465-73.

Signs, symptoms, metastatic spread and metabolic behavior of neuroblastomas treated in Denmark during the period 1943-1980.


The clinical manifestations of 253 neuroblastoma cases in childhood, treated in Denmark from 1943 to 1980, were reviewed. Most striking was the vagueness of symptoms in the majority of patients, only a few of whom exhibited the symptoms strongly suggestive of a neuroblastoma (i.e. the Horner syndrome, the watery diarrhoea syndrome, the dancing eye syndrome). The vagueness of the symptoms might have led to fatal procrastination of the diagnosis. The diagnostic delay has, however, no independent prognostic significance for survival in our patients (p = 0.09). The maximal tumour spread was recorded for all 253 patients, and the distribution of metastases was in accordance with the "soil-seed" hypothesis. The tumour spreads with equal frequency by local growth, by lymphatic vessels to distant lymph nodes, and by blood to bone. Only in widely disseminated tumours are metastases to the lungs, the meninges, the brain, and the reproductive organs seen to occur. Eighty-five percent of the patients, for whom data were available, excreted VMA above the normal value for their age, and 43% excreted Norepinephrine + Epinephrine (N + E) above normal levels. The excretion of both VMA and N + E was significantly correlated to stage, and thus to prognosis. Neither the level of VMA excretion nor the level of N + E had any bearing on the survival when age and stage were adjusted for. Serial VMA and N + E determinations show that patients with normal values for these parameters had significantly better prognosis than patients with elevated values during the first, second, third and fourth trimesters after the initiation of treatment. Increasing values in the individual patient were associated with a poor prognosis. We found no correlation between the initial leucocyte count and survival when age and stage were adjusted for.

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