Retinoblastoma – The Rare Eye Cancer

Retinoblastoma – The Rare Eye Cancer

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Retinoblastoma | cancerGO

What is Retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that develops in the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that converts light into signals the brain uses to see. It is most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of 5, but can also occur in older people.

Risk factors

Risk factors for retinoblastoma include:

  • Having a family history
  • Inherited genetic mutations
  • Exposure to chemicals during pregnancy
  • Radiation exposure to their father


Symptoms of retinoblastoma can include:

  • A white pupil in photographs
  • Eye redness or pain
  • A crossed eye or lazy eye
  • Vision loss
  • Bulging of the eye
  • Bleeding in the eye


Any of the above symptoms noted in children should be reported to their healthcare provider quickly. This can lead to prompt evaluation with specialized eye exams and vision tests.

Other imaging studies may be used and can include ultrasound and MRI.

For most cancers, performing a biopsy to get a tissue to test for the presence of cancer cells is done. However, this can be a very risky procedure for retinoblastoma. Because of this, it is often diagnosed by eye exams and other imaging tests.


Treatment for retinoblastoma depends on the stage and location of cancer, the patient’s age, and overall health. Treatment options include eye-saving treatments such as:

  • Laser therapy
  • Cryotherapy (killing cancer cells by freezing them)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Other, more invasive treatment options can include surgical removal of the affected eye (enucleation) or removal of the entire eye and surrounding tissue (exenteration).

Retinoblastoma is a rare eye cancer that can affect children of all ages. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. If you or your child have any symptoms of retinoblastoma, please see an ophthalmologist immediately.

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

Download our
mobile app

Share this post
You may also like
Chemo Brain
March 1, 2023

What is a Chemo Brain? Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer that involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. While chemotherapy can be an effective way to fight cancer, it can also have side effects that impact a person's quality of life. One such side effect is…

Julie Scott, DNP


Why Oncologists should join the platform
January 24, 2023

The three words that stop any human being on its path is “You Have Cancer”! And this is the moment when sheer helplessness wrecks havoc on a patient’s mental and physical well-being. As an oncologist, connecting with cancer patients now matters more than ever. Today, we invite you to join…

cancerGO Founders


Prostate cancer: who is at risk and how to catch it early
November 8, 2022

What is Prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is common cancer in men. About 13% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. It’s important to know that prostate cancer is very treatable, even in its advanced stages.  Risk Factors The biggest risk factor men face for prostate cancer…

Julie Scott, DNP


cancerGO gives you access to a community

Where are people to listen, answer questions, share information, and offer valuable and timely advice