Tailoring Therapy for Children With Neuroblastoma on the Basis of Risk Group Classification: Past, Present, and Future

JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2020 Oct:4:895-905. doi: 10.1200/CCI.20.00074.


For children with neuroblastoma, the likelihood of cure varies widely according to age at diagnosis, disease stage, and tumor biology. Treatments are tailored for children with this clinically heterogeneous malignancy on the basis of a combination of markers that are predictive of risk of relapse and death. Sequential risk-based, cooperative-group clinical trials conducted during the past 4 decades have led to improved outcome for children with neuroblastoma. Increasingly accurate risk classification and refinements in treatment stratification strategies have been achieved with the more recent discovery of robust genomic and molecular biomarkers. In this review, we discuss the history of neuroblastoma risk classification in North America and Europe and highlight efforts by the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) Task Force to develop a consensus approach for pretreatment stratification using seven risk criteria including an image-based staging system-the INRG Staging System. We also update readers on the current Children's Oncology Group risk classifier and outline plans for the development of a revised 2021 Children's Oncology Group classifier that will incorporate INRG Staging System criteria to facilitate harmonization of risk-based frontline treatment strategies conducted around the globe. In addition, we discuss new approaches to establish increasingly robust, future risk classification algorithms that will further refine treatment stratification using machine learning tools and expanded data from electronic health records and the INRG Data Commons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neuroblastoma* / pathology
  • Neuroblastoma* / therapy
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers