Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is one of the common tumors of the eye in children. Although the condition is very rare, it is considered as the third most common cancer among the children. Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor in the retinal layer of your eye. It may affect either one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) the eyes. Retina is a nervous tissue that lines the inner side of your eye. It receives the light that is focused by the lens, converts it into neuronal signal and then sends to the brain for recognition. Early detection and improved treatment modalities have significant improvement in the prognosis of the vision and life in the patients with retinoblastoma.

Causes

Retinoblastoma can be hereditary and non-hereditary. It occurs when the retinal layer of the eye undergoes genetic mutations. These genetic alterations lead to rapid growth of the cells in the retina leading to the formation of an abnormal mass called the tumor. The retinal tumor can spread to nearby tissues such as brain and spine. Hereditary retinoblastoma may occur in an autosomal dominant pattern, where, if one parent carries the gene for retinoblastoma, then each child has 50 percent chance for inheriting the condition.

Symptoms

Following are the signs and symptoms of retinoblastoma

  • Pain in the eye
  • Diminished vision
  • Redness in the eye
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Formation of white colored circle in the pupil of the eye

Complications

In children who are treated for retinoblastoma, there might be a risk of recurrence. Therefore, regular checkups will help to reduce the severity and recurrence of the disease. Children with hereditary retinoblastoma have a higher risk of developing other types of cancer.

  • Chronic epididymitis
  • Formation of abscess in the scrotum
  • Permanent damage to your epididymitis
  • Reduced fertility

Your doctor might order any of the following tests:

  • Eye examination: Your doctor dilates the pupil by instilling anesthetic eye drops. This helps to check the signs of retinoblastoma. Other eye examinations include ophthalmoscopy, slit-lamp biomicroscopy, and fluorescein angiography.

  • Imaging tests:  Ultrasound, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging studies provide a detailed view of your eye and help to confirm the diagnosis.

Your doctor would recommend the treatment based on the size, location of the tumor, overall health, and extent or severity of the tumor. Your doctor might recommend you any of the following treatments.

Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy uses chemicals to destroy the cancer cells. Sometimes, chemotherapy is prescribed in combination with radiation therapy, cryotherapy, laser therapy, or thermotherapy.

Radiation therapy:Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy the cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapies used to treat retinoblastoma which includes:

  • Internal radiation therapy uses a small disc of a radioactive substance which is left in the place of the tumor for few days and kills the cancer cells.

  • External beam radiation therapy uses high-energy beams that are delivered into the eye to destroy the tumor.

Laser therapy:The laser beam is used to destroy the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the cancer cells.

Cryotherapy:Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to kill the cancer cells.

Thermotherapy:During thermotherapy, extreme heat is used to kill the cancer cells, which is guided by ultrasound, microwaves, or the lasers.

Surgical management:Your doctor might suggest for surgery if your child does not respond to the other treatment options.

  • Surgical removal of the affected eye

  • Surgery to place an eye implant

  • Surgery that involves fitting an artificial eye