By: Alexis Cabra 4/11/16

Definition of the cancer and what part of the body it generally affect

A rare malignant tumor of the retina, which is the sensitive lining of the inside of your eye. It can occur in one or both eyes and sometimes in the area around the eye. Rarely spreads to other parts of the body.


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Retinoblastoma usually occurs in younger children. Most common sign of it is having white papillary reflex which is when you shine light in the eye and the pupil looks red because of the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Often appears to be white or pink. Other symptoms are:

  • Lazy eye
  • Vision problems
  • Eye pain,
  • Redness of the white part of the eye
  • Bleeding in front part of eye
  • Bulging of the eye
  • Pupil that does not get smaller when exposed to bright light
  • Different color in each iris

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Possible causes of the cancer

It is unknown of the cause of the cancer on whether if there is environmental or health factors, but occurs more often in younger children. Retinoblastomas is caused by a germline mutation in the RB1 gene that could occur early in life. It is possible to inherit the mutation from parents of the child, which could led them to developing retinoblastoma in one or both eyes down the road. Most children with hereditary retinoblastoma do not have an affected parent but could still pass their RB1 gene mutation on to their children.



There are no known avoidable risk factors for retinoblastoma. If the child gets the cancer it was neither the parents nor the child fault for getting it.


How is the cancer treated?

  • Enucleation (removal of the eye)
  • External beam radiation therapy (radiation treatment)
  • Localized plaque radiation therapy (radiation treatment)
  • Photocoagulation (laser treatment)
  • Cryotherapy (freezing treatment)
  • Chemotherapy


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How the cancer is diagnosed

  • Eye exam. Your eye doctor will conduct an eye exam to determine what's causing your child's signs and symptoms. For a more thorough exam, the doctor may recommend using anesthetics to keep your child still.
  • Imaging tests. Scans and other imaging tests can help your child's doctor determine whether retinoblastoma has grown to affect other structures around the eye. Imaging tests may include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), among others.
  • Consulting with other doctors. Your child's doctor may refer you to other specialists, such as a doctor who specializes in treating cancer (oncologist), a genetic counselor or a surgeon.


How many and type of people are likely to have the disorder

Retinoblastoma is more common in younger children under 5 years. About 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with it each year in the U.S.


Application of research article

This cancer affects a person's eyes making them eventually lose their vision. Retinoblastoma can be both heritable and non-heritable. A mutation in the RB1 is the cause of retinoblastoma and symptoms or people diagnosed are usually just kids under 5 years old.