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Cancer Lett. 2002 Oct 28;184(2):127-47.

Genetic parameters of neuroblastomas.

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Department of Cytogenetics (H0400), German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Neuroblastoma is a malignant childhood tumor of migrating neuroectodermal cells derived from the neural crest and destined for the adrenal medulla and the sympathetic nervous system. The biological behavior of neuroblastomas is extremely variable and in some respects unique. Neuroblastomas tend to regress spontaneously in a portion of infants or to differentiate into a benign ganglioneuroma in some older patients. Unfortunately, in the majority of patients neuroblastoma is metastatic at the time of diagnosis, and it usually undergoes rapid progression with a fatal outcome. The mechanisms leading to this diverse clinical behavior of neuroblastomas are largely unclear. From the analysis of tumors at the cytogenetic and molecular level non-random genetic changes have been identified, including ploidy changes, amplification of the oncogene MYCN, deletions of chromosome 1p, gains of chromosome arm 17q, and deletions of 11q as well as of other genomic regions that allow tumors to be classified into subsets with distinct biological features and clinical behavior. MYCN status is widely accepted for therapy stratification. Additional genetic parameters are currently under investigation to refine risk assessment, but so far the molecular monitoring tools for prediction of therapy response and disease outcome are still incomplete. This should lead to more risk-adapted therapies according to the clinical-genetic parameters by which individual tumors are characterized. This review aims at discussing the role of genomic changes in neuroblastomas of diverse biological and clinical types.

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