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Neuroblastoma staging

There are two methods of neuroblastoma staging, one that is based on post-operative patients and one developed for pre-treatment patients.


International Neuroblastoma Staging System (INSS)

This staging system is for post-operative patients and mainly for prognosis 1:

  • stage 1
    • localised tumour with complete gross excision with or without microscopic residual disease
    • contralateral and representative ipsilateral regional lymph nodes negative for disease (nodes attached to and removed with primary tumour may be positive)
  • stage 2a
    • localised tumour with incomplete gross excision
    • ipsilateral and contralateral nodes negative for tumour
  • stage 2b
    • localised tumour with complete or incomplete resection
    • positive ipsilateral (non-adherent) nodes
    • contralateral nodes negative for tumour
  • stage 3
    • unresectable lateral tumour that crosses the midline or
    • localised tumour with contralateral regional lymph node involvement
    • midline tumour with bilateral extension by infiltration or by lymph node involvement
  • stage 4S
    • <1 year of age
    • localised tumour (stage 1, 2A or 2B)
    • distant metastases confined to skin, liver and/or bone marrow
  • stage 4
    • distant metastases not fulfilling stage 4S

In the majority of cases (60-80%), patients present with stage 3 or 4 tumours 2.

International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Staging System (INRGSS)

The INRG was developed after INSS to formulate staging for pre-operative neuroblastoma 5,6:

  • stage L1
    • localised tumours confined to one body cavity and not involve vital structures
  • stage L2
    • local regional tumours involving one more vital structures
    • allowed to be ipsilateral across body cavities (i.e. does not cross midline)
  • stage M
    • distant (remote) metastases (i.e. excludes metastases to local lymph node groups)
    • excludes stage MS
  • stage MS
    • metastases in patients <18 months (some centres <12 months) confined to skin, liver and/or bone marrow

More than 20 vital structures have been extensively defined by the INRG 5,6, and these is outside the scope of this article.

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