Recurrent Pediatric Retinoblastoma Exams

Recurrent pediatric retinoblastoma exams are recommended for children that have been successfully cured of retinoblastoma tumors. In some cases of both hereditary and non-hereditary retinoblastoma, the cancer is not completely eliminated by the treatment. Frequent recurrent retinoblastoma examinations closely following treatment may assist physicians in catching relapsed retinoblastoma before it has had a chance to spread, or in catching subsequent tumors which develop.

Purpose of Recurrent Pediatric Retinoblastoma Examinations

The hereditary form of pediatric retinoblastoma carries a high risk for recurrent tumors. This is because hereditary retinoblastoma is caused by a mutation that is present in all body cells. Non-hereditary retinoblastoma is also caused by a mutation, but it is slightly different and is only present in the original cell that forms the retinoblastoma tumor in the eye. In rare cases of non-hereditary retinoblastoma, the cancer may begin to spread or may not be completely eliminated by the treatment, so recurrent examinations are recommended.

Hereditary Pediatric Retinoblastoma Risks

The risk of developing recurrent retinoblastoma tumors of the eye or new tumors in other areas of the body differs greatly depending on the individual case and the type of treatment that was used. Radiation treatment has been associated with developing sarcomas later in life, primarily in late teen years or during adulthood. However, radiation treatment has a high success rate for eliminating retinoblastoma tumors, so it may be preferable to surgical removal of both eyes if tumors are present in both eyes.

Regardless of which type of treatment is chosen, hereditary retinoblastoma patients are susceptible to trilateral retinoblastoma, which is retinoblastoma tumors in the blain. These tumors most commonly form in the pineal region of the brain, but can be present elsewhere. Recurrent pediatric retinoblastoma exams using imaging tests can help physicians to identify and treat these cancers immediately.

Recommended Recurrent Pediatric Retinoblastoma Exams

The most commonly recommended screening tests for recurrent examinations after pediatric retinoblastoma are MRIS. MRIs are recommended every six months for five years following retinoblastoma treatment, and other types of screening tests may be done even more frequently. CT scans and other types of tests that expose the patient to radiation are not recommended for screening because of the increased cancer incidence.

Regular Retinoblastoma Screening

While the risk of developing secondary tumors declines slightly after five years, the odds are still much higher than for those that have not had cancer. Patients that have recovered from retinoblastoma should alert physicians during annual wellness exams and be sure to have regular screenings for cancers that commonly develop following retinoblastoma. Certain factors such as smoking, excessive UV exposure, and exposure to human growth hormones significantly increase the risk for developing recurrent retinoblastoma tumors.

Cancers that commonly develop following retinoblastoma treatment include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Soft tissue carcinomas
  • Cutaneous melanomas
  • Hodgkin disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer


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