Retinoblastoma occurs when abnormal cells in the retina (the light-sensing area at the back of the eye) grow in an uncontrolled way. It usually occurs in young children, and can affect one or both eyes.
In children, very few risk factors have been identified that increase the chance of developing cancer. For most children with cancer, the underlying cause is unknown. Retinoblastomas are due to a faulty RB1 gene. This faulty gene can run in families, or it may develop for the first time in the child. Most cases of retinoblastoma do not run in families.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma may include:
Pupil (the black part of the eye in the middle) that appears white instead of red when a light is shone into it (e.g. in a photograph). Red or painful eye. Larger than usual eyeball. Cloudiness in the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil. Eyes that seem to be looking in different directions (also called ‘lazy eye’).
Many conditions – including common childhood infections – can cause these symptoms, not just retinoblastoma. If your child has any of these symptoms and you are concerned, talk to your child’s doctor.
For an in depth look at retinoblastoma, please check out this Cancer.org article: