Children's Hospital Colorado
Retinoblastoma Program

Retinoblastoma

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor inside the eye. It grows from the retina, which is a structure important for vision in the back part of the eye, behind the pupil. Retinoblastoma is the most common primary eye tumor in children, with an incidence of 11.8 cases for every million live births in the United States. There are approximately 350 new cases of retinoblastoma every year in the United States. It can affect one or both eyes, and in some cases involving both eyes, patients will also have a tumor in their pineal gland within their brain.

What causes retinoblastoma?

Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer caused by a mutation in a gene important for regulating cell growth. Sometimes this mutated gene is inherited, which means it is passed down from parents to their children. The disease can run in families, so anyone whose parent has a history of retinoblastoma should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist at an early age. Patients who survive retinoblastoma of both eyes are also at risk for developing additional cancers such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and melanoma as they get older.

Who gets retinoblastoma?

The vast majority of patients are diagnosed before 5 years of age. When one eye is involved, the average age at diagnosis is 2-and-a-half years. When both eyes are involved, the average age at diagnosis is 1 year. Males and females are equally affected, and there is no clear association with any racial or ethnic groups.

Next steps

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Robert Enzenauer, MD, MPH/MSPH

Robert Enzenauer, MD, MPH/MSPH

Ophthalmology, Pediatrics

Rebecca Braverman, MD

Rebecca Braverman, MD

Ophthalmology

Emily McCourt, MD

Emily McCourt, MD

Ophthalmology

Jasleen Singh, MD

Jasleen Singh, MD

Ophthalmology