Posted on March 8th, 2009 by
A study that followed retinoblastoma survivors for up to 61 years reported a high risk of second cancers among survivors of hereditary retinoblastoma. These results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Retinoblastoma is a rare cancer of the retina (part of the eye). The disease most commonly occurs in young children. Approximately 30%-40% of cases are due to an inherited mutation in a gene known as RB1. The remaining 60%-70% of cases are thought to be due to sporadic (not inherited) mutations in the RB1 gene.
Hereditary retinoblastoma is suspected if the patient has a family history of retinoblastoma or if the disease involves both eyes. Survivors of hereditary retinoblastoma are known to be at risk of developing second cancers, but few studies have had long-term follow-up information available.
To explore the risk of second cancers among retinoblastoma survivors, including some with several decades of follow-up, researchers in the Netherlands conducted a study among 668 patients who had been diagnosed with retinoblastoma between 1945 and 2005. The risk of cancer in the retinoblastoma survivors was compared to the risk of cancer in the general Dutch population.
This study provides additional information about the risk of second cancers among retinoblastoma survivors. Survivors of hereditary retinoblastoma may wish to talk with their doctor about the optimal approach to follow-up and cancer screening.
Reference: Marees T, Moll AC, Imhof SM, de Boer MR, Ringens PJ, van Leeuwen FE. Risk of second malignancies in survivors of retinoblastoma: more than 40 years of follow-up. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2008;100:1771-1779.
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