Mayo Clinic offers rapid, coordinated neuroblastoma diagnostic testing and assessments by a team of skilled doctors with specialized training and expertise in childhood cancers. Using the latest available testing options, pediatric cancer specialists (oncologists) work with highly experienced pathologists (body tissue analysts) to diagnose neuroblastoma. Diagnosis usually begins with a medical history review and physical exam, followed by imaging and other types of tests.
Mayo Clinic has an international reputation for top-quality imaging and rapid test results. To diagnose neuroblastoma, your doctor may recommend one or more of these scans:
- Metaiodobenzylguanidine scan (MIBG). This highly sensitive scan uses MIBG, a radioactive material, to detect tumor cells as it travels through the bloodstream.
- Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan creates a computer-generated two- or three-dimensional image of the tumor and surrounding tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of bones and the tissues around them.
- Ultrasound. Ultrasound uses a wand-like device to send and receive high-frequency sound waves that translate into images of organs.
- Bone scan. This scan shows changes in bones that may indicate a tumor or other abnormality.
- X-ray. X-rays show the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs and diaphragm so the doctor can look for abnormalities or tumors.
- Blood tests. Blood tests are useful in revealing abnormalities, such as anemia or a high white blood cell count, which can cause symptoms.
- Urine test. A urine test may help detect the presence of neuroblastoma cells, which produce high levels of certain chemicals.
- Biopsy. A small sample of the suspected tumor, the lymph nodes or bone marrow (biopsy) may be removed for examination by a pathologist. Mayo Clinic's pathologists are internationally known for their expertise.
- Cytogenic analysis. This genetic test, performed on a tissue sample, can indicate whether the tumor has caused a change in certain unique regions of DNA strands, called genes or chromosomes.
- Immunohistochemistry (IHC). During IHC, a substance is added to a sample of tumor tissue to test for certain proteins (antigens) to identify or confirm the presence of cancerous (malignant) cells.