Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer which affects an average of 10 children a year in Ireland. It often occurs in young children under the age of 5. It is a cancer of specialised nerve cells called neural crest cells. These cells are involved in the development of the nervous system and other tissues.
Neuroblastoma often begins in the abdomen. The two main areas it can affect are the adrenal glands and the nerve tissue at the back of the abdomen. It can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bone marrow, bones, liver and skin, through the blood and lymph nodes.
Donal was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma with MYCN amplification, a more aggressive type of the disease. The cancer had spread from his main tumour in his abdomen to his lungs, lymph nodes, bones and eyes. Within the first week of treatment, Donal lost the sight in his right eye. As with most cancers, the cause of Neuroblastoma is not known.
One of the features of Neuroblastoma is the very high rate of relapse. In the event of a relapse Donal’s options for treatments that can cure the disease may be limited to clinical trials and new treatments that are only available outside Ireland.
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