NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 20 – Screening for neuroblastoma at 6 months of age is associated with a dramatic increase in disease diagnosis but only a marginal decrease in mortality, according to a report published in the March 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The study was conducted to determine the usefulness of mass screening of 6-month-old infants for neuroblastoma, begun in Japan in 1973.
Dr. Keiko Yamamoto, from Saitama Children's Medical Center in Japan, and colleagues analyzed data from about 1.7 million screened and 700,000 unscreened children to determine the cumulative incidence and cumulative mortality rates of neuroblastoma prior to 5 years of age.
In approximately one-third of the screened children, qualitative assessment of urinary vanillylmandelic acid was performed. In 1988, this method was replaced by a quantitative assay.
For children younger than 1 year of age, screening was associated with significant increase in the cumulative incidence. In this age group, the cumulative incidence ratios per 100,000 were 1.12 in unscreened infants, 5.69 in those tested by the qualitative assay, and 17.81 in the group evaluated by the quantitative screen.
However, this increase did not translate into a significant decrease in the incidence among children 1 to 5 years of age. Furthermore, while screening was linked to a reduction in mortality, the effect was not statistically significant.