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Rise of retinoblastoma among Indian kids

May 19
22:48 2015

0NEW DELHI: There has been an increase in the cases of retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, among children in India, according to ophthalmologists at AIIMS.

Though the disease used to occur in approximately one in 20,000 live births, experts say that there has been a gradual increase in the number of cases with over 20,000 children being reported to be suffering from retinoblastoma every year.

Retinoblastoma that affects mostly children below five years of age is a cancer that develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye.

The early signs of retinoblastoma in children is that the pupils appear red when light is thrown into the eyes due to blood vessels at the back of the eye.

According to eye-specialists, late diagnosis and misconceptions about the symptoms are the major reasons that the retinoblastoma spreads from the eye to the brain and then the entire body, lessening the chances of survival.

“Retinoblastoma can be caused both genetically and non- genetically and occurs mostly among children below the age of five years. There is lack of awareness among parents who bring their children only after observing some major problem in their eyes by which time the cancer would have already spread,” Bhavana Chawla, Associate Professor at AIIMS’ R P Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, said.

The experts said parents need to get their child tested as soon as he/she shows symptoms such as shine in the eye balls, redness of the white part of the eye, poorly aligned eyes, reddish pupil, different-colored irises or poor vision.

Professor Pradeep Sharma of R P Centre said India has made several medical advancements in treating eye cancer.

“Treatments like surgery, laser surgery, chemotherapy with perfect effect are the only way to cure the disease. The situation is such that currently it is not possible to save the eyesight of the patient after the surgery, however research is on to make it possible,” Sharma said. -PTI

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