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Retinoblastoma is the most common form of eye cancer in children. Multiple tumors can develop in one or both eyes. The condition most commonly affects children under 3 years of age. It is a rare type of cancer, affecting approximately 300 children in the U.S. annually.
Retinoblastoma first develops in the retina (the sensitive lining on the inside of the eye). If not treated, the cancer can metastasize (spread) outside the retina to the fluid inside the eye, the eye socket, the optic nerve, the brain and the bones and bone marrow. Most retinoblastomas are found and treated before they have spread outside the eyeball.
Ninety-five percent of children with retinoblastoma are diagnosed before they are 5 years old. Children with retinoblastoma in both eyes are usually diagnosed around the age of 12 months. Those with retinoblastoma in one are usually diagnosed when they are around 24 months old.
Forty percent of children with retinoblastoma have a genetic defect for retinoblastoma. This may be acquired or inherited. Throughout their lives, children with hereditary retinoblastoma are at higher risk to develop other cancers. They have a 45 percent chance of passing this genetic defect on to their children.
Sixty percent of children with retinoblastoma have nonhereditary retinoblastoma, which affects only one eye.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma include:
More than 95 percent of treated patients can be cured if the tumor is contained within the eye. For children with retinoblastoma in both eyes, about 70 to 80 percent of the eyes can be saved.
If your child has symptoms of retinoblastoma, pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric oncologists at Riley at IU Health can perform diagnostic tests and exams, some of which may require diagnostic and interventional anesthesia. Diagnostic tests that are commonly used include:
Tests that are rarely used to diagnose retinoblastoma include:
Treatment for retinoblastoma depends on factors such as:
Treatment may involve one or a combination of the following therapies:
Visit the trusted websites below to learn more about retinoblastoma.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The cancer specialists at Riley at IU Health are currently studying the side effects and outcomes of treating extraocular retinoblastoma with combination chemotherapy, autologous stem cell transplant and/or radiation therapy. Your child may be eligible for participation in this clinical trial. Speak with your child's doctor for more information or read the trial summary on the Indiana University Health Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center website.
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