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Screening for neuroblastoma in the north of England

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Louise Parker, Emeritus Professor Alan Craft, Mike Cole, Julian Smith


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Objective-To determine the feasibility of establishing a system of screening for neuroblastoma. Design-Prospective study of mass screening in four clearly defined geographical areas. Setting-Four health districts of the Northern region of England. Subjects-20 829 babies aged 6 months, 92% of target population. Interventions-Collection of urine on filter paper for analysis of content of homovanillic and vanillylmandelic acid in relation to urinary creatinine concentrations. Main outcome measures-Derivation of reference range. Identification of babies with homovanillic or vanillylmandelic acid >3 SD above the mean (positive cases). Investigation of positive cases for evidence of neuroblastoma. Results-The upper limit of normal (3 SD above the mean) for vanillylmandelic acid was 15 mumol/mmol creatinine and for homovanillic acid 24 mumol/mmol creatinine. Of the 20 829 babies screened, 2537 (12.2%) required a second sample to be taken because the first sample was inadequate. Of these, 527 (2.5%) provided a liquid urine specimen and 10 (0.04%) had positive results for neuroblastoma. Two of them had neuroblastoma (true positives) and eight did not (false positives). A further three children from the cohort were subsequently found to have neuroblastoma; they had raised homovanillic acid or vanillylmandelic acid values, or both, but screened negative at 6 months. Conclusions-Screening for neuroblastoma is possible in the health care system of the United Kingdom. Evaluation of the efficacy of screening in reducing the mortality from neuroblastoma requires a controlled trial.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Parker, L., Craft, A. W., Dale, G., Bell, S., Cole, M., McGill, A. C., Seviour, J. A., Smith, J.

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Medical Journal

Year: 1992

Volume: 305

Issue: 6864

Pages: 1260-1263

Print publication date: 21/11/1992

ISSN (print): 0959-8138

ISSN (electronic): 1756-1833


DOI: 10.1136/bmj.305.6864.1260

PubMed id: 1303649


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