Prevention of Neuroblastoma

Summary

Although there are no such recommended prevention strategies available for the prevention of neuroblastoma; however, people are suggested to avoid exposure to occupational hazards, maternal alcohol consumption, oral contraceptive and non-prescribed drugs, and maternal infection for decreased risk of neuroblastoma in children.

Introduction

There is no preventive strategy for neuroblastoma as this disease results from altered embryonic development of neuronal tissue. There are no avoidable environmental hazards associated with this condition. Screening measures are not currently recommended, except in patients with a known family history of neuroblastoma. Early detection of neuroblastoma did not improve mortality, and screening young children for tumor markers (i.e., vanillylmandelic acid and homovanillic acid) did not improve survival​1​. However, the risk for neuroblastoma can be prevented by avoiding the risk factors for the disease. For more information, read Risk factors for neuroblastoma.

  • Avoiding parental occupational exposures

The risk for NBL is increased for a number of broad sectors and occupational hazards such as pesticides, coal tar, some metals, and crude oil.

  • Avoiding maternal alcohol consumption

The effects of alcohol on the fetus hinder normal neurological development. Early ethanol exposure may hinder neuronal cell migration and proliferation and lead to neuronal loss. Studies have reported associations between alcohol consumption and neuroblastoma. Therefore maternal alcohol consumption should be avoided in order to reduce the risk for neuroblastoma.

  • Avoiding oral contraceptives or other drugs

Exposure to oral contraceptives or other sex hormones in early pregnancy has been reported to quadruple the risk of NBL in children diagnosed with stage I or II. Some prescription and nonprescription drugs, such as painkillers, are also reported to be associated with risk for neuroblastoma when taken during pregnancy. Therefore people should look into the side effects of such medicines before using them.

  • Avoiding infections in pregnancy

Studies have reported the association of maternal infections such as sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal infection with increased risk for neuroblastoma. Pregnant women should therefore be careful to avoid contraction of any such infections​2,3​.

References

  1. 1.
    Shohet J, Foster J. Neuroblastoma. BMJ. Published online May 3, 2017:j1863. doi:10.1136/bmj.j1863
  2. 2.
    Heck JE, Ritz B, Hung RJ, Hashibe M, Boffetta P. The epidemiology of neuroblastoma: a review. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. Published online March 2009:125-143. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3016.2008.00983.x
  3. 3.
    Schüz J, Kaletsch U, Meinert R, Kaatsch P, Spix C, Michaelis J. Risk factors for neuroblastoma at different stages of disease. Results from a population-based case-control study in Germany. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Published online July 2001:702-709. doi:10.1016/s0895-4356(00)00339-5