How To Treat Retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, mainly affects the retina (light sensing part of eye) of young children under five years of age, but can affect adults too.

It is estimated that approximately 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma every year and it affects one in every 20,000 children.

Almost 40% cases of retinoblastoma are inherited; 75% of them are affected by only one eye, with 25% of cases affecting both eyes.

Is it curable?

If you detect tumors in the early stages, you have a better chance of saving the eyesight – and sometimes even the life – of the victim. Successful treatment for retinoblastoma depends on the position, size and number of tumors present in the eye. For smaller tumors, here are a few treatment options:

  1. Laser therapy: This therapy is mainly used to vaporize the tumors present in the retina. Usually two or three sessions are needed at monthly intervals to completely eliminate the tumors.
  2. Thermotherapy: The main process used in this procedure is heat, which is used to destroy the cancer cells present in the retina. Sometimes, thermotherapy is combined with chemotherapy or radiotherapy for total elimination.
  3. Plaque: For slightly larger tumors or tumors that have not been completely eliminated, this therapy is used. A small radioactive disc will be stitched into the affected part of eye and left for two or four days. The radiation offered by the disc destroys the cancer cells.
  4. Cryotherapy: This method is used to freeze the tumors responsible for retinoblastoma. Sometimes more than one session, repeated at monthly intervals, will be used.

For larger tumors, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the most effective treatments. Learn all you can about the procedures beforehand, as side-effects of each treatment can cause complications.

Examine the treatments intensely before choosing your particular treatment. The degree of vision retained depends entirely upon the extent of the disease and also the type of treatment you choose.