One of the most reported forms of cancer that affects children below the age of 2 is retinoblastoma. This is caused when the retinoblasts of the eyes begin to grow or change beyond what the body can control and form tumors. This then results in retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma can be treated like most forms of cancer if it is caught early before it progresses. There is also a strong likelihood that it is passed from genes and so it is important to request for a test from an optometrist in Winter Park if someone in your family has had this cancer before.
There are two types of retinoblastoma that can affect children, and this depends on where the mutation occurs on the retinoblastoma 1 gene (RB1) or if it is a genetic condition.
This cancer just happens without any premeditation. Non-hereditary retinoblastoma accounts for over 60% of cancers that affects children in North America. In most cases, the retinoblastoma affects only one eye. There is also little risk that children will be affected by the disease.
This type of retinoblastoma is passed on from parents to their children and accounts for 40% of cancers reported in children. In this case, someone in the family or a parent must have suffered from retinoblastoma. In some cases, it could be described as sporadic because there may be no history of retinoblastoma in the family. Kids who exhibit retinoblastoma are also at a higher risk of developing other forms of cancer like lung cancer, skin cancer, soft tissue sarcoma etc. There is also a strong chance that the retinoblastoma 1 gene would be transmitted to their future children. Despite medical research into the subject, there is still no definite way of predicting or reducing the risk of retinoblastoma occurring in children.
Retinoblastoma is best treated when it is identified early enough. This can be done through eye examination, blood testing and MRI’s. MRIs are especially useful when the family already has a history of retinoblastoma and so the children already have a high risk of having the cancer.
There are many things that can indicate that a child may be suffering from retinoblastoma. Most of these signs and symptoms can be caught by an optometrist in Winter Park during an eye examination or as a follow up on complaints of the physical symptoms. Here are some common signs that could indicate that a child may be suffering from retinoblastoma:
There are many ways to treat retinoblastoma and the preferred method depends on which stage the cancer is in before it was detected. We will be looking at some of these methods and the merits of each one:
This is the use of extreme cold to drop the temperature of the cells of the eyes and destroy cancerous cells. This treatment has shown a lot of success with early stage detection of retinoblastoma.
In this case, different forms of radiation such as microwave, ultrasound and infrared are used to target cancerous cells in the eyes and heat them up till they are destroyed. This is also typically recommended during early onset retinoblastoma. Children that have a low-risk occurrence of the disease can avoid chemotherapy by using thermotherapy. Doctors can combine this treatment with others to figure out the best way to keep the disease from coming back after treatment.
There are many ways that the chemotherapy treatment could delivered to children. The treatment can be done systematically through the use of anti-cancer medication of the use of radiation to deliver a steady dosage to the affected area. There is a lot of post-chemo treatment required for up to 5 years where the child’s progress is carefully monitored to prevent relapse.
When every trace of retinoblastoma in a child’s eye is removed and cannot be seen in tests, then the cancer is said to be in remission. This could be a temporary situation or a permanent one. While there is always a fear that the retinoblastoma could reoccur, optometrists in Winter Park always advise patients to understand all the options and possibilities so that they and their parents are well-prepared in the event of the cancer returning.
A good thing to note is that most of the treatment methods discussed for retinoblastomas are all successful with a large percentage of children. In extreme circumstances, the retinoblastoma may be beyond treatment and could become terminal. In this case, there will be a lot of effort in ensuring that the child is as comfortable as possible and pain-free for the rest of the life.
It is important to speak to your optometrist in Winter Park about checking for retinoblastoma if you see any of the signs in your children or you have questions that you want answers to. Call us today on (407) 672-2020 or fill out a contact form for a free appointment.