According to a story from The Daily Telegraph, Huon May was diagnosed with a serious case of stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was just ten weeks old. The cancer was present in a mass in his neck and the baby boy’s liver five times larger than normal because of all of the tumors that were on it.
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that appears in nerve tissue and most often affects children. The tumor frequently originates in the adrenal glands, but it can also occur in other areas, such as the neck, abdomen, spine, and chest. The cause of neuroblastoma is not well known, though on rare occasion it can occur as the result of a genetic mutation inherited from the patient’s parents. Certain genetic disorders may carry an increased risk of the cancer. Symptoms of neuroblastoma can vary depending on the location of the tumor, but typically include bone pain, a lump in the affected area, constipation, weakness, and breathing issues. Prognosis depends on a variety of factors; localized tumors are often curable, and younger patients tend to fare better. Five year survival rate is about 95 percent for patients under a year old and 68 percent for older patients. To learn more about neuroblastoma, click here.
Despite his young age, the first eight months of Huon’s life were spend enduring extensive chemotherapy in a bid to get rid of the cancer. He was too young to be eligible for radiation therapy. Thankfully, the chemo appeared to be sufficient to stave off Huon’s neuroblastoma. His liver is now cancer free and the tumor situated in his neck has been reduced to minuscule size.
Huon’s mother, Jill, is naturally excited about the fact that her son responded so well to treatment. However, he will have to be closely monitored for side effects from treatment. Chemotherapy can ravage the body and mind of any patient regardless of age, and children are susceptible to its effects. The majority of neuroblastoma survivors will have to deal with long term effects from treatment.
Thankfully, recent research could lead to new treatments that don’t have harmful effects. The Children’s Cancer Institute has uncovered a gene called MYCN that appears to play a role in the growth of neuroblastoma tumors. Tumors will multiple copies of this gene are associated with worse outcomes. However, a research team from the institute appears to have found a way to block the activity of the MYCN gene. This could prevent the tumor from continuing its growth.
Learn more about the Children’s Cancer Institute here.