Retinoblastoma—Patient Version

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Overview

Retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the retina. The retina is a thin layer of nerve tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye and is sensitive to light. The retina senses light and sends a message by way of the optic nerve to the brain, in order for you to see.

Retinoblastoma can occur in one or both eyes and sometimes occurs in the area around the eye. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment depends on whether the cancer is in one or both eyes or has spread outside the eye and how likely it is that vision can be saved.

About 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma each year in the U.S. Although retinoblastoma can occur at any age, it usually occurs in children younger than 5 years. Most children with retinoblastoma are younger than 2 years old when the cancer is diagnosed.

Anatomy of the eye, showing the outside and inside of the eye.

Causes & Prevention

NCI does not have PDQ evidence-based information about prevention of retinoblastoma.

Screening

NCI does not have PDQ evidence-based information about screening for retinoblastoma.