What Is Retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is a type of cancer that occurs in the retina. It is most commonly found in children but can happen to adults in some rare cases.
The retina consists of a nerve tissue that is sensitive to light. When the light enters the eye, it is the retina that catches the light particles and passes on the information to the brain that is later converted into images. Retinoblastoma can happen in one or both eyes.
Retinoblastoma sign is hard to get noticed as the condition mostly affects very small and young children. A few common signs are:
- A white patch in the pupil
- Redness in the eye
- Eye swelling
- The eyes start to seem that they are looking in opposite directions
Who Is At Risk?
If a child’s parents have Retinoblastoma, the chances of the child developing Retinoblastoma increase. Other than that, there are no known risk factors.
Retinoblastoma causes are not clear to doctors yet. Cancer develops when a genetic mutation happens to the neurons present in the retina. These genetic mutations cause cells to grow at a very high rate. Mutated cells then form a mass called a tumor.
The one possible cause that is presumed to cause Retinoblastoma is inheriting the genetic mutations from parents. It should be noted here that it is not necessary that a child will surely develop Retinoblastoma if a genetic mutation is passed on to him or her from the parents. In case Retinoblastoma happens from the inherited mutation, it tends to affect both eyes, instead of just one.
How Is Retinoblastoma Diagnosed?
Retinoblastoma diagnosis can be done by performing a number of tests and procedures including:
- Eye test: An eye test is done to see what is causing the symptoms. Anesthetics might be used in some cases.
- Imaging tests: Various imaging tests like ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are done to see if cancer has also affected the nearby parts of the eyes such brain and spine.
Depending on the results, your child might be referred to a cancer specialist (oncologist).
How Is Retinoblastoma Treated?
Various treatment methods can be applied for Retinoblastoma cure. The treatment method depends on the size of the cancerous mass and its location. The following treatment methods can be used for the cure:
- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of drugs to kill the cells that are causing cancer. Most of the time, chemotherapy is used to shrink the mass of the cancer cells. Once the size is reduced down, various other methods like radiation therapy, cryotherapy can be used to kill the remaining mass.
- Radiation therapy: High-energy beams are targeted on the cancerous mass to destroy it. Mostly, X-rays and protons are used in high-energy beams. There are two types of radiation therapy namely internal radiation (brachytherapy) and external beam radiation. The former is chosen over the latter by the doctors when there are chances of retina damage in the process.
- Laser therapy: Blood vessels that supply food and oxygen to cancerous cells are destroyed in this method through laser. It is seen that the cancer cells die once their source of energy is destroyed.
- Cold treatments (cryotherapy): Liquid nitrogen or other cold substances are used to freeze the cells. When the liquid nitrogen is removed, the tumor thaws. This process is repeated many times.
- Surgery: When the mass of cancer is too large to get treated by methods like laser therapy, cold therapy, then the doctors may perform surgery to remove the eyes. It is done to prevent other body organs from getting affected by cancer.
If your child is showing symptoms and you want to get a Retinoblastoma test done, or you have already done the diagnosis, and are looking for the treatment, carefit can help you. We have a team of eye specialists and oncologists who have years of experience in treating conditions like Retinoblastoma. To know more, just go to our website or download our official app.
How Can Retinoblastoma be Prevented?
Since the causes are not clear to doctors yet, Retinoblastoma prevention is not possible. However, in the families where it is known that Retinoblastoma is getting passed down to the children, genetic testing can help in early diagnosis and telling if the future children are prone to developing cancer or not.