In this section
Retinoblastoma is a tumour of early childhood arising in the
cells of the light sensitive lining of the eye known as the retina.
In about two-thirds of children only one eye is affected but in
one-third tumours develop in both eyes. Children with both eyes
affected often have a parent who has retinoblastoma. Every child of
an affected parent is usually screened regularly from birth.
Retinoblastoma is usually noticed as a white appearance of the
pupil, which tends to reflect light like a cat's eye. A squint may
develop. Children with very large tumours may have a painful, red
eye or poor vision.
The diagnosis is made by an ophthalmologist (an eye specialist)
who examines the eye usually under a general anaesthetic. An
ultrasound and CT scan may also be done and usually lumbar puncture
will be done to see if there is spread of the tumour. (Refer to
sheet on tests and procedures)
The number, site and size of tumours determines the type of
treatment. A combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be
used to treat retinoblastoma. Sometimes, when the tumour is very
large and the vision in the eye has been lost, it is necessary to
remove the eye.
After treatment has finished the child will be seen at regular
intervals and monitored with examination of the affected eye/eyes
under a general anaesthetic. Although many children may have near
normal vision (depending on the treatment required) some will have
partial loss of sight. Radiotherapy may cause some side effects.
After the first few years the focus of follow up changes to
monitoring growth and development and other possible later side
effects of treatment.