Spinal cord disease in children with known or suspected malignancy is an oncological emergency because it commonly implies malignant spinal cord compression. The records of 17 children with cancer presenting with spinal cord compression, encountered over 15 years, were reviewed. 11 patients were neuroblastoma, 3 were nonhodgkin lymphoma and the last were rhabdomyosarcoma. Male/female ratio was 1.2, the median age was 5.2 years, 9 patients went to surgery for tumour resection and laminectomy, others were treated with chemotherapy after biopsy. After treatment, 3 of severely affected 6 patients, who presented with paralysis, completely recovered neurologic function. 2 of 4 patients with moderate deficits, consisting of paresis and bowel/bladder dysfunction, completely recovered neurologic function. 7 children, who had mild symptoms comprised of paresis alone, fully recovered.
The frequency of complete neurologic recovery in children with intraspinal mass inversely correlated with the severity of the presenting neurologic deficits. The time passed between the first symptom and treatment was also important for neurologic recovery.