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What is Retinoblastoma?


Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer occurring in young children.


GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is retinoblastoma?
  2. Symptoms
  3. Retinoblastoma disease burden
  4. How is retinoblastoma detected?

What is retinoblastoma?

  • It is the most common cancer in the eye (malignant tumor) in small children.
  • It can occur in one or both eyes and may be hereditary or sporadic.
  • It can be life-threatening as well as take away vision if not treated timely and is detected by seeing White Reflex (WR).


  • White Reflex in the eye: Pupil that looks white or yellow instead of red when light hits it.
  • Squinting: A crossed eye, looking either toward the nose or towards the ear.
  • Poor vision with or without WR. The eye may be red or painful also.

Retinoblastoma disease burden

  • Nearly 1,500-2,000 children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma every year in India.
  • The majority of these children belong to lower socio-economic strata of society and nearly 60 per cent of these patients have advanced disease at presentation.
  • It is associated with low treatment and survival rates which are due to lack of awareness, social stigma, poor access to care, high cost of treatment, lack of infrastructure, health professionals, good treatment protocols, quality drugs, diagnostics, and supportive care.
  • Financial help is forthcoming from various poor patient funds, government schemes, state cancer funds of Punjab and Haryana, and NGOs.

How is retinoblastoma detected?

  • Ocular ultra-sonography and fundus examination are the immediate OPD procedures.
  • Its extent is determined by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and systemic staging investigations (bone marrow biopsy, CSF, and whole-body PET scan).

-Source: Indian Express

November 2023