Retinoblastoma is a rare form eye cancer it begins in the retina, the layer of nerve cells lining the back of the eye that is stimulated by light. . Retinoblastoma is the most common form of cancer affecting the eye in children, but can rarely occur in adults. Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes. It happens when nerve cells in the retina change, growing in size and number. The cells eventually form a tumor. The cells usually spread in and around the eye. They can also spread to other parts of the body, including the brain and spine.
How common is retinoblastoma?
• Retinoblastoma accounts for about 3 percent of all childhood cancers.
• About 250 to 300 children in the United States are found to have retinoblastoma each year.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma
Because retinoblastoma mostly affects infants and small children, symptoms are rare. Signs you may notice include:
• “Cat’s eye”: a white-yellow mass or glow seen through the pupil—often first noticed in a photo of a child’s face when the flash is used without “red eye reduction.” Normally, the center of the eye appears red in response to the camera flash, but in retinoblastoma, the center of the eye may have a white glow.
• Eyes that appear to be looking in different directions
• Eye redness
• Eye swelling
• Complaints of poor vision
• Pain from increased pressure in the eye as the tumor grows
The main types of treatment for retinoblastoma are:
• Radiation therapy
• Photocoagulation (using lasers to kill small tumors or the blood vessels that feed them)
• Cryotherapy (using cold to freeze and kill small tumors)
• Thermotherapy (using a type of laser to apply heat to kill small tumors)
• High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant
Sometimes more than one type of treatment may be used. The treatment options are based on the extent of the
cancer and other factors.