Retinoblastoma

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can retinoblastoma be prevented?

In adults, the risk for many cancers can be reduced by avoiding certain risk factors, such as smoking or exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. But there are no known avoidable risk factors for retinoblastoma. If your child does develop retinoblastoma, it is important to realize that you or your child did nothing to cause it.

In some cases, gene changes that put a person at high risk of retinoblastoma are hereditary (passed on from a parent to a child). People who have had retinoblastoma might want to consider genetic counseling before having children to learn more about the risks of passing on the gene change and perhaps to explore ways to avoid this. For example, an option some people might consider would be to use in vitro fertilization and implant only embryos that don’t have the gene change.

If a preventive option is not used, children born into a family with a history of retinoblastoma should be screened for this cancer starting shortly after birth because early detection of this cancer greatly improves the chance for successful treatment. See the next section, “Can retinoblastoma be found early?” for more information.


Last Medical Review: 12/05/2013
Last Revised: 12/05/2013