About the Eye Cancer (Retinoblastoma)
Most cancers are named after the body parts affected by them. As the name itself says, Retinoblastoma aka Rb is a cancerous infection found on the surface of the retina. Though this eye cancer is a common disease in children’s, adults (men and women) are equally prone to this type of cancer. There are two forms of this cancer- heritable form and non-heritable form. In children’s, a major group around 55% is affected by non-heritable form of Retinoblastoma.
How does it develop?
If the cause behind Retinoblastoma is genetic, there is a transmutation of chromosome 13, also known as RB1 gene. The growth and development of eye cells, also called retinoblasts, is controlled by the genetic codes found in chromosome 13. A cancer may develop in the eye if a portion of the code is missing. Some children’s inherit defective RB1 gene from their parents and therefore transmutation occurs at the time when baby grows in the womb. People with genetic Rb have a bilateral (both eyes) tumor. On the other hand, those with non-genetic Rb suffer from unilateral (single eye) tumor.
Symptoms of Retinoblastoma
The most common symptom of Retinoblastoma is the anomalous appearance of the pupil. A white reflex, Leukocoria, is visible in the eyeballs. Besides that deterioration of vision, red & irritated eye and delayed growth are other specific signs this eye cancer. In some cases, children tend to develop a squint, commonly known as wall-eyed.
Treatments for Retinoblastoma
There are two treatments offered for this eye cancer – Enucleation and Chemotherapy.
Enucleation: This surgical treatment is done by removing the eye, leaving other eye muscles such as brow and eyelid unaffected. The patient is put to sleep using local anesthesia and thereafter eye is removed. The surgery is not painful and takes less than one hour. It is recommended in such cases wherein eyes have suffered severe trauma, that are blind and have severe pain.
Chemotherapy: This therapy is performed with the combination of antineoplastic drugs to shrink tumors in the eye. Patients with bilateral disease are recommended with this treatment. It is done to eliminate small tumors wherein the eye vision is present. A combination of measures is used during the treatment which include
- Photocoagulation – It is used to destroy the blood vessels delivering the tumor.
- Thermotherapy – In this process, heat is used to destroy tumor cells.
- Cryotherapy – Low temperature is used to destroy tumor cells.
- Teletherapy – In this therapy, radiation is directed towards tumor to destroy it.