Retinoblastoma (reh-tin-oh-blast-oma) is a childhood cancer arising from immature retinal cells in one or both eyes and can strike from the time a child is in the womb up to 5 years of age. This cancer is curable if caught early enough. However, 87% of the children stricken with this disease worldwide die, mostly in developing countries. In developed countries, 97% of those who do live have moderate to severe visual impairment or the child may loose one or both eyes.

Retinoblastoma is a relatively uncommon tumor of childhood that accounts for about 3% of the cancers in children under the age of 15. The tumors originate in the retina, the light sensitive layer of the eye, which enables the eye to see. When the tumors are present in one eye, it is referred to as unilateral retinoblastoma, and when it occurs in both eyes it is referred to as bilateral retinoblastoma. 60% of the cases involve only one eye (unilateral); the rest affect both eyes (bilateral). 90% of retinoblastoma patients have no family history of the disease and only 10% of newly diagnosed patients have other family members with retinoblastoma.

Early diagnosis and intervention is critical to the successful treatment of this disease.

Common signs of retinoblastoma include:

   -  A white "glow" or "glint" in the pupil of one or both eyes in dim lighting

   -  White pupil in a color photo

   -  Crossed or misaligned eyes

New Brochure Promoting Early Detection

Although it is rare, retinoblastoma can spread or metastasize outside of the eye to the brain, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and the bones.  In these cases, chemotherapy is prescribed by a pediatric oncologist and is administered through the peripheral blood vessels or into the brain for months to years after initial diagnosis of metastatic disease.