BACKGROUND: Neuroblastomas and ganglioneuroblastomas (NB/GNB) are malignant tumors that rarely occur in adults. Their disease progression and appropriate treatment are unclear.
METHODS: All adults (age ≥18 years) were evaluated for histologically confirmed NB/GNB within our institution. Data were collected via chart review and direct patient contact.
RESULTS: From 1980 to 2009, a total of 15 adult patients with NB/GNB were evaluated: six men (mean age 23 years, range 19-33 years) and nine women (mean 34 years, range 20-66 years). Their overall average age at diagnosis was 30 years. Tumor-related symptoms occurred in ten patients: Pain (abdominal 3, back 2, pelvic 1, groin 1) was more common than a mass (abdominal 2) or dysmenorrhea (1). Five patients had tumors found incidentally by computed tomography (4) or chest radiography (1). Primary tumor origins were in the pelvis (4), mediastinum (3), abdomen (2), adrenal gland (2), retroperitoneum (2), and mixed locations (2). Altogether, 12 patients underwent surgical resection (biopsy in 3; resections of R0 in 5, R1 in 3, R2 in 4). Ten underwent chemotherapy. Histology showed four GNBs and 11 NBs. Five patients with stage I disease survived a mean of 21 years (range 10-40 years). Two are alive today. Three stage III patients died at 2, 6, and 9 years after diagnosis (mean 5.7 years). Six of seven patients (one was lost to follow-up) with initial stage IV neuroblastoma died within 5 years (mean 2.7 years). NB and GNB patients had similar survivals.
CONCLUSIONS: Adult-onset NB/GNB is rare. Symptoms appear to occur later when incurable stage IV disease is detected. Complete surgical resection can lead to long-term, disease-free survival in stage I patients.
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