About Cancer > Retinoblastoma


Retinoblastoma is cancer affecting the eye that develops in the retina of the eye. There are two forms of retinoblastoma including the heritable form that is generic or inherited from family, and the non-heritable form that is not passed on in the family. Retinoblastoma can affect one (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral) 1

Stages of Retinoblastoma

Signs of Retinblastoma can include a white pupil that does not reflect light (leucocoria), a squint or occasionally a painfull eye. 1

Incidence & Causes of Retinoblastoma
Retinoblastoma forms when there is an abnormality in the retinoblastoma gene (RB1). This abnormality may be passed on through the family, or may occur in the first instance as a foetus develops in the womb. For families where retinoblastoma has occurs in the past, regular screening is available.
The number of children in England Diagnosed between 2003 and 2012 was 371 accounting for 2% of cancers diagnosed in that period.


Treatments for Retinoblastoma will depend on the staging and grading of the cancer. However, common treatments for smaller cancers include cryotherapy, laser therapy, plaque and thermotherapy. For larger cancers surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be used.

Outlook / Survival

The statistics below are based on the five-year survival rate for children who were diagnosed under the age of 15 in England.

For those diagnosed in 2008-2012 the survival rate was 99%, an increase of 1% for those diagnosed in 2003-2007 signalling an improvement in the effectiveness of treatments. The survival for those diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma is 100% 2

Although free of cancer, approximately 60% of childhood cancer survivors will suffer from “late-effects” caused by the treatments used to save their lives 3

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