Pediatric Neuroblastoma Surgery

Pediatric Neuroblastoma Surgery


Most children with neuroblastoma need surgery as part of their treatment. MSK Kids surgeons in New York City work as part of a team and are leaders in neuroblastoma care.

If your child has neuroblastoma, we offer world-class care at MSK Kids. Our experts aim to give each child the best treatment with the fewest side effects.

MSK has experts in neuroblastoma that’s hard to treat

Our surgeons often take on neuroblastoma cases that are too hard for other hospitals to treat. Many care teams at other hospitals lack the surgical skills to operate on these neuroblastomas.

MSK can help children with:

  • Neuroblastoma that’s hard to remove because it wraps around blood vessels and organs. Our surgeons can separate tumor tissue from healthy tissue, a method that keeps organs working well.
  • Neuroblastoma that has a high chance of coming back.

Types of Neuroblastoma Surgery

Neuroblastoma surgery can be done alone or with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Surgery for small tumors with a low risk of coming back

Surgery is recommended for small tumors that have a low chance of coming back. For most children with low-risk neuroblastoma, surgery is the only treatment they will need.

Surgery for large neuroblastoma tumors that have spread

If the tumor is large and has spread to other areas, it has a greater chance of coming back. This is called recurrence.

Our surgeons are highly skilled at taking out neuroblastoma tumors in all areas, including the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Children they treat do very well after surgery and have a very low rate of complications (problems).

Chemotherapy before surgery can shrink tumors and lower the risk of recurrence. During a break between chemotherapy sessions, the surgeon will remove as much tumor tissue as possible. Most children can go back to getting chemotherapy within 1 week of their surgery.

Surgery for high-risk and complex neuroblastoma

MSK Kids neuroblastoma surgeons are among the most experienced in the world at removing tumors from children with high-risk neuroblastoma. This includes very complex cancer that wraps around organs and blood vessels.

Our team has the surgical skills needed to take out tumors without harming nearby healthy tissue. Your child may have several surgeries if that’s the best treatment. The surgeries will not affect their chemotherapy schedule.

Surgery for recurrent neuroblastoma

MSK Kids surgeons and radiation oncologists work together to care for kids with recurrent neuroblastoma. Recurrent means the neuroblastoma has come back, even after treatment.

MSK is one of the country’s few hospitals that offers intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). This is a high dose of radiation aimed at the tumor during surgery. It can keep nearby healthy tissue safe from radiation.

A radiation oncologist is a cancer doctor with special training in the use of radiation therapy (RT) to treat cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer. Intraoperative (IN-truh-AH-pruh-tiv) means care given during surgery.

IORT directs the rays at the tumor area right after surgery, in the operating room. After the surgeon takes out the tumor, they place little radioactive beads in small plastic tubes in the area. The radiation kills neuroblastoma cells that remain.

MSK researchers showed this treatment helps children with recurrent neuroblastoma live longer. It also lowers the chance the cancer will come back.

Follow-Up Care to Preserve Your Child’s Well-Being After Neuroblastoma Surgery

Many parents wonder if their child will live a normal life after neuroblastoma surgery. Our goal is for treatment to have few side effects and keep organs working well. We try not to harm or remove healthy tissue.

We use methods to keep your child safe, including:

  • Neuromonitoring. Neuroblastoma surgeons work with doctors with special training in the nervous system and surgery near the spinal cord. During the surgery, a special care team makes sure your child’s spinal cord and nerves stay healthy and safe.

This method lowers the chance of side effects and complications after surgery. That includes a lower risk of paralysis (puh-RA-lih-sis), the loss of the ability to move body parts. MSK’s adult-care spinal cord surgeons often help with these special procedures.

  • Saving the kidney. Neuroblastoma often happens near the adrenal glands, which sit on the kidneys. Our surgeons almost never need to take out a kidney in a child with neuroblastoma. They can almost always can save the kidney.

Your Child’s Comfort During Neuroblastoma Surgery at MSK

Neuroblastoma surgery often is very long, lasting 8 to 10 hours. You may wonder how your child can be under anesthesia for so long, or if they will be in pain afterward.

An anesthesiologist (a-nes-THEE-zee-AH-loh-jist) is a doctor with special training in using anesthisa (medicine to make you sleep) during your surgery or procedure. They monitor your vital signs while you’re asleep.

MSK Kids anesthesiologists are all pediatric anesthesiologists, with special training in the care of children. They are experts in pain relief after surgery. Your child’s pain will be very well controlled. 

New Patient Appointments

Call 833-MSK-KIDS Available Monday through Friday, to (Eastern time)