What is retinoblastoma?

The retinoblastoma is fortunately rare tumor that affects the retina and in half the cases have a hereditary character. Typically, it is manifested before six years of age and generally between the first and second year of the child’s life, and may affect one or both eyes.

Symptoms of retinoblastoma

The most important alarm signal that should attract the attention of the parents is that in the photos that are taken of the child with flash the pupil leaves white instead of red.

It is what in ophthalmology is known as white spots and should take parents to consult as soon as possible with the specialist. However, other symptoms may appear:

  • Badly aligned eyes.
  • Strabismus in which the eyes converge towards the same point.
  • Double vision.
  • Redness of the eye with pain.
  • Impaired visual acuity.
  • The coloration of the iris is different in each eye.

On the other hand, in the event that the spread of cancer has occurred, other symptoms may occur, depending on the affected areas: ocular orbit, brain, lung and bones.

Diagnosis and treatment of retinoblastoma

For the confirmation of the diagnosis of retinoblastoma it will be necessary to perform an in-depth eye ophthalmological examination with pupil dilation, in addition to a head and eye ultrasound, a CT scan or an MRI. When the tumor is very aggressive, it may be convenient to perform a bone marrow biopsy and an analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid, in order to confirm an eventual spread of the tumor.

This type of cancer is curable in most cases, but it must not have spread beyond the eye. If there is spread of cancer to other organs, the chances of cure are significantly reduced. Also, keep in mind that this type of cancer can lead to loss of the eye or that it is blind.

The size and location of retinoblastoma will determine the treatment to follow. Treatment options depend on the size and location of the tumor. The smallest ones will be treated by laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing of the tumor tissue. However, the surgery can be supplemented with chemotherapy, which in any case should be applied when the tumor is large or if it has spread. Sometimes, if the Tumor is very aggressive, the initial treatment is enucleation (removal) of the affected eye, which can also occur when there has been no response to previous treatments.


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