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Retinoblastoma - Eye Cancer

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About Retinoblastoma - Eye Cancer

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects children. A whitish color seen in the eyeballs is the most common sign

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Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the eye that affects the retina i.e the part of the eye that detects color and light.

Retinoblastoma may be hereditary or non- hereditary. The hereditary type makes up for 10% of all the cases and in these cases it affects both the eyes (bilateral). In the majority of the cases, however, retinoblastoma occurs spontaneously and affects only one eye (unilateral), Approximately 70% to 75% of all the cases of retinoblastoma belong to the later category.

Retinoblastoma mostly affects children, although it may occur at any stage of an individual's life. It is estimated to affect 1 in 15,000 to 20,000 live births. In the United States, 250 children, per year, are diagnosed with the disease.

A white color, clearly visible in the dark pupil of the eye, is the most common sign of this disease. This unique 'whiteness', referred to as the 'cat's eye reflex', or 'leukocoria' is singularly distinct in photographs taken by a camera with a flash.


"White pupil" in the child's left eye.


People who have the hereditary form of retinal cancer are also likely to develop a brain tumor, called pinealoma, which affects the pineal gland, located at the base of the head.If pinealoma is present along with retinoblastoma, the condition is called trilateral retinoblastoma.
Retinoblastoma patients are also at an increased risk of developing osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), soft tissue cancers, melanoma, (a type of skin cancer), and other cancers, later on in life.

Retinoblastoma can be diagnosed by an eye examination, which is supported by imaging studies. There are no blood tests available to diagnose retinoblastoma.

Retinoblastoma is treated using a combination of chemotherapy and localized treatments, like radiation or cryotherapy. If detected early enough, this cancer can be cured.

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