Treating children with neuroblastoma takes a team of experts with experience treating childhood cancer. Whether your child has recently been diagnosed or you are seeking advanced therapies for a relapse, Duke Children’s offers the latest treatments for kids. This includes a promising new targeted treatment for relapsed and hard-to-treat neuroblastoma called MIBG therapy. Your child gets comprehensive, personalized care in a compassionate, family-friendly environment. Your family also is supported by a team that specializes in helping children with cancer.

Trusted Care for Neuroblastoma in Children

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that affects the nerves of the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-or-flight response) throughout the body. The disease forms as tumors in the adrenal glands (found above the kidneys) or in the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis. When your child is diagnosed with neuroblastoma, it’s comforting to know you’re working with a team of specialists on the leading edge of neuroblastoma treatment.

  • Your child’s team includes pediatric oncologists, bone marrow transplant specialists, pediatric surgeons, radiation oncologists, specialized nurses, and nuclear medicine specialists. They work collaboratively with social workers, counselors, and other care professionals to keep you well-informed and supported through every step of your child’s treatment.
  • The neuroblastoma specialists who care for your child are also researchers who are seeking better treatments. Our neuroblastoma doctors collaborate with pediatric cancer experts nationally, as part of neuroblastoma committees through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child has access to the latest treatments, including 131I-MIBG  therapy, a promising new treatment for relapsed and hard-to-treat neuroblastoma. Duke Children’s is one of 15 centers in the U.S. to offer the treatment through a clinical trial.
  • Most children with neuroblastoma need surgery, and your child is in good hands. Duke Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in the U.S. verified as a level I children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.

Diagnosing Neuroblastoma

Doctors diagnose neuroblastoma with blood and urine tests, bone marrow examination, and imaging exams such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, bone scans, and MIBG (metaiodobenzylguanidine) scans. These tests find the location of the tumor and determine whether it's spread in the body. Your child may also have surgery to get a tissue sample or biopsy for diagnosis. These tests allow doctors to personalize treatment and determine the best therapies for your child.

MIGB: Targeted Therapy for Relapsed or Difficult-to-Treat Neuroblastoma

When children have neuroblastoma that has returned or isn’t responding to treatment, your pediatric oncologist will discuss whether 131I-MIBG is a treatment option.

When neuroblastoma is found in multiple places throughout the body, it’s difficult to treat with standard, external-beam radiation therapy, which uses a machine to deliver radiation from outside the body to target a specific area, rather than throughout the body.

MIBG is a substance that is combined with radioactive iodine to target and destroy cancer cells. MIBG is absorbed by neuroblastoma cells, and the iodine releases the radiation to kill the cells. It targets the tumor cells everywhere and destroys them while sparing healthy tissue.

A specially trained nuclear medicine technologist uses an IV to infuse the MIBG into your child’s bloodstream over the course of two hours. It’s done in a lead-lined room that's specifically designed for this type of therapy. Your child will spend a few days in the same room while the radioactive substance is cleared from their body naturally. We take special precautions to protect parents and staff from radiation exposure while they are in the room.

MIBG therapy can be a faster, more effective, and less painful option than other treatments. It requires less time in the hospital, and it’s usually well-tolerated, with fewer side effects than other treatments.



Your child's neuroblastoma treatment will depend on their age, as well as the location and progression of their cancer.

Family and Support Services

We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and support your family throughout treatment.

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