Retinoblastoma: Causes, Risks, and Treatment
Retinoblastoma is the most common form of cancer found in children under the age of 2. When changes or mutations in retinoblasts grow out of control, a tumor is formed resulting in retinoblastoma.
Two Types of Retinoblastoma
Each variant depends on when and where changes in the retinoblastoma 1 gene (RB1) occur and if inherited.
Non-hereditary retinoblastoma happens by chance. The Cancer Canadian Cancer Society suggest 60% of children with retinoblastoma have this version. Instead of the tumor affecting both eyes, non-hereditary retinoblastoma only affects one eye and usually will not be passed onto their future children.
Hereditary retinoblastoma, however, is inherited from parent to child. 40% of children have this version and can be familial or sporadic.
In familial heredity retinoblastoma, a parent or other family member must have had retinoblastoma. Sporadic heredity retinoblastoma is when there is no history of retinoblastoma in the family. Children with hereditary retinoblastoma also have a higher chance of developing other cancers such as bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma or skin cancer. There is also the possibility of passing the RB1 gene onto their future children as well.
Risk factors associated with retinoblastoma begin with changes or mutations in the RB1 gene and are not modifiable. As of yet, there is no specific way of reducing the risk of retinoblastoma.
Success rates are higher when retinoblastoma is found and treated in the early stages. Eye exams, blood tests, and MRI’s are helpful in cases when there is a history of retinoblastoma in the family.
Signs and Symptoms
- White reflection or glare in your child’s pupil when exposed to light
- Crossed eyes
- Redness and inflammation of white parts of the eye
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Enlarged eyeball(s)
- If their eye bulges out of the eye socket
- Two different coloured irises
- Increased pressure in the eye which can lead to blindness
There are various forms of treatment depending on the stages of retinoblastoma.
The first and most common is Cryosurgery when extreme cold is used to freeze and destroy cancer cells.
The second is Thermotherapy when microwaves, ultrasound, or infrared radiation is used to deliver heat to destroy cancer cells.
The third is Laser surgery where a laser is used to heat and destroy cancer cells.
The fourth is Chemotherapy. There are different ways of receiving treatment such as systemically, through anticancer drugs, or radiation therapy.
A vital aspect of treatment comes in follow-up aftercare. Regular checkups, especially within the first 3-5 years post-treatment, is crucial in monitoring your child’s progress.
If you have any questions or signs regarding retinoblastoma, contact Dr. Mat Broschak today, the proud owner of Orchard Park Optometry. He is available to discuss your concerns and condition.
Book an appointment with him today by calling (250) 762-2090 or filling out a contact form.