The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball. Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina that happens mostly to young children.
A pupil (the black spot in the center of the eye) that's white instead of black
Eyes that look in different directions (strabismus, also called cross-eyes)
If the retinoblastoma is large, vision problems
If the cancer has spread, children may also throw up, lose their appetite, or have a headache.
If a doctor suspects a retinoblastoma, they'll:
If your child has retinoblastoma, doctors will do more tests to see if the cancer has spread, including:
Doctors will also do genetic testing to see if your child's retinoblastoma is the type that can be passed down in a family. If it is, doctors will also test members of the child's family. Brothers and sisters at risk for retinoblastoma should have eye exams every 4 months from birth to age 4. Parents' eyes should also be checked, because the same gene can cause noncancerous tumors in an adult retina.
Treatment depends on where the retinoblastoma is and whether it has spread. It's important to remove the whole tumor, but if possible, doctors use treatments that spare the vision.
If retinoblastoma is only in one eye, doctors usually:
If the retinoblastoma is in both eyes, doctors may remove the eye with the largest tumor and try to treat the other eye without removing it so your child can still see. Those treatments may use:
Chemotherapy drugs injected directly through the main artery that provides blood to the eye
Pieces of radioactive material placed near the tumor (brachytherapy)
After treatment, specialists should examine your child regularly to make sure the cancer hasn't come back.