Retinoblastoma

What is retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina in the eye. The retina is the tissue located in the back of the eye that converts images seen by the eye to electric signals that can be interpreted by the brain. This disease may be present in one or both eyes. Retinoblastoma is most common in children under the age of five.

What causes retinoblastoma?
Approximately 40% of childhood retinoblastoma is hereditarily passed from the parents. For the remaining 50-60% of children who get the non-hereditary form, the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms of retinoblastoma?
• Red, sore or swollen eye for no known reason 
• Change in the color of the iris
• In photographs, if the child has “red eye” in one eye (which is a normal effect from photographs) but a white or black pupil in the other eye
• Unfocused vision
• What appears to be a “lazy eye”, when one of the eyes does not look in the same direction as the other eye

How is retinoblastoma diagnosed?
If physicians at KHCC suspect that a child has retinoblastoma, they will run a number of tests and diagnostic procedures to determine how fast-growing it is and how much it has spread:
• Ultrasound of the eyes to detect the tumor
• Examination under anesthesia: It is important to perform exam under anesthesia in children to get a precise diagnosis
• MRI of the head to detect any intracranial spread of the tumor

How is retinoblastoma treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the child depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Treatment includes: surgical procedures (in many cases the eyes may be saved), thermotherapy, cryotherapy and radiation therapy. At KHCC, a team consisting of an oncologist, ophthalmologist and radiation oncologist discusses every case in detail with consultation of internationally known experts in difficult cases. The most important goal of treatment is to save the life of the patient followed by saving vision and appearance. In some cases, it is difficult to achieve these goals without chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Surgery is usually a last resort, used as an option when other therapies are not effective in treating the tumor.

Physicians
Pediatric patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of pediatric oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating retinoblastomas and other childhood tumors.

Supportive Care
The pediatric multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that pediatric cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
• Eye prosthesis team to support patients who need to get eye prosthetics
• Eye rehabilitation program
Psychosocial support
Play Room and Play Therapy
Back To School Program
Spiritual care
Physical therapy
Nutrition
Respiratory care
Cancer support groups