Retinoblastoma is a cancerous tumor that grows in the Retina. The Retina is the light-sensing area in the back of the eye. Retinoblastoma is a mutation and it can occur in one, or both, of the eyes. It occurs most often in young children. It is also a life-threatening disease, but isn’t fatal if treated properly. 75% of the cases of the tumor are unilateral Retinoblastoma, meaning it occurs in only one eye. 25% of the cases of the tumor are bilateral Retinoblastoma and occur in both of the eyes. Retinoblastoma is not gender, or ethnic specific.

Retinoblastoma is a mutation that is not inherited. The mutation takes place in a gene that controls cell division, causing cells to grow out of control and become cancerous. The mutation also occurs in genes that control eye development. 90% of Retinoblastoma patients do not have a family history of the disease.

· Crossed Eyes
· Double Vision
· Eyes that do not align
· Eye Pain
· Redness of the eye
· Differing iris colors in each eye

Daily Life:

Retinoblastoma is normally diagnosed when parents notice leukocoria, a white pupil. They take their child to an ophthalmologist, where he/she examines the child’s eye with an ophthalmoscope. Other times, the child will need a CAT/MRI scan or ultrasound to detect the tumor. Sometimes, a biopsy is necessary. That’s when they scrape a little of the tissue off to examine the cells to see if the cells are cancerous or not.

You can have Laser Therapy, External Beam Radiation, or Chemoreduction done to get rid of the tumor. Laser Therapy is when lasers are used to destroy smaller Retinoblastoma tumors. Since Retinoblastoma is sensitive to light, External Beam Radiation is used to slowly shrink the tumor, but the tumor does not go away completely. Chemoreduction is when chemotherapy is used, so it passes through the bloodstream, and causes the tumors to shrink within a few weeks. You can also have an enucleation done which is when your eye is surgically removed, so that the cancer can be removed.

The National Cancer Institute has been studying Retinoblastoma and the effects it may have on the survivors later on in their life. They’re trying to find what second cancers Retinoblastoma survivors may have to face as they grow up.

Additional Facts:
Over 95% of the children in the United States survive the cancer, and grow up to have a normal life. Children with bilateral Retinoblastoma, which means they have it in both eyes, normally get to keep good vision in one eye, or are even able to use both of their eyes in some cases. Children with unilateral Retinoblastoma, a tumor in one eye, all have one eye that has normal vision, even if the eye with Retinoblastoma is removed. Retinoblastoma has been documented in children over 2,000 years ago.

Pedigree Chart:


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Merck Manuals

National Cancer Institute