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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2007 May;48(5):504-9.

Diagnostic and prognostic impact of urinary catecholamines in neuroblastoma patients.

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Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.



Urinary catecholamine metabolites are well-known to be elevated in patients with neuroblastoma. Some investigators have described different patterns in favorable and unfavorable cases. However, extended studies have not been published.


We investigated urinary catecholamine patterns and their correlation to stage, biological features, and outcome in 114 consecutively clinically diagnosed neuroblastoma patients.


Sensitivity of vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), homovanillic acid (HVA), and dopamine (DA) was 80.7, 71.9, and 61.3%, respectively. In 91.2% of patients at least one parameter was above normal. High VMA levels were associated with favorable biological features, high DA levels were predominantly found in biologically unfavorable disease. Whereas patients with normal HVA levels had a significant better outcome, the other parameters showed no significant association with prognosis. For disseminated neuroblastoma of infancy, DA/VMA ratio proved to be helpful for the discrimination of stage 4 versus stage 4s.


Urinary catecholamines appear to be useful to give a first but important hint about the biological behavior and thus the prognosis of the underlying disease. Particularly DA/VMA ratio may serve as a tool for "biological grading"-especially in disseminated disease of infancy. In addition, it may be speculated that HVA negativity and low DA/VMA ratio may be helpful for the decision of a "wait and see" strategy in selected neuroblastoma patients with localized disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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