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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Jan 1;19(1):183-90.

Neuroblastoma with symptomatic spinal cord compression at diagnosis: treatment and results with 76 cases.

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Department of Hematology-Oncology, Giannina Gaslini Children's Hospital, and Clinical Epidemiology Unit, National Institute for Cancer Research, Genova, Italy.



To report on the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed neuroblastoma presenting with spinal cord compression (SCC).


Of 1,462 children with neuroblastoma registered between 1979 and 1998, 76 (5.2%) presented with signs/symptoms of SCC, including motor deficit in 75 patients (mild in 43, moderate in 22, severe [ie, paraplegia] in 10), pain in 47, sphincteric deficit in 30, and sensory loss in 11. Treatment of SCC consisted of radiotherapy in 11 patients, laminectomy in 32, and chemotherapy in 33. Laminectomy was more frequently performed in cases with favorable disease stages and in those with severe motor deficit, whereas chemotherapy was preferred in patients with advanced disease.


Thirty-three patients achieved full neurologic recovery, 14 improved, 22 remained stable, and eight worsened, including three who become paraplegic. None of the 10 patients with grade 3 motor deficit, eight of whom were treated by laminectomy, recovered or improved. In the other 66 patients, the neurologic response to treatment was comparable for the three therapeutic modalities. All 11 patients treated by radiotherapy and 26 of 32 patients treated by laminectomy, but only two of 33 treated by chemotherapy, received additional therapy for SCC. Fifty-four of 76 patients are alive at time of the analysis, with follow-up of 4 to 209 months (median, 139 months). Twenty-six (44%) of 54 survivors have late sequelae, mainly scoliosis and sphincteric deficit.


Radiotherapy, laminectomy, and chemotherapy showed comparable ability to relieve or improve SCC. However, patients treated with chemotherapy usually did not require additional therapy, whereas patients treated either with radiotherapy or laminectomy commonly did. No patient presenting with (or developing) severe motor deficit recovered or improved. Sequelae were documented in 44% of surviving patients.

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