Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Long-term outlook for a child with retinoblastoma

Prognosis greatly depends on the following:

  • Extent of the disease.
  • Size and location of the tumor. 
  • Presence or absence of metastasis. 
  • Tumor’s response to therapy.
  • Age and overall health of your child.
  • Your child’s tolerance of specific medications, procedures or therapies.
  • New developments in treatment.

As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly from child to child. Every child is unique and treatment and prognosis are structured around the child’s needs. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis.

Continuous follow-up care is essential for a child diagnosed with retinoblastoma. Secondary cancers have a high incidence among survivors of retinoblastoma. These secondary cancers are not a relapse or recurrent retinoblastoma, but are primary tumors (brand new tumors) of other organs. The most common secondary cancer is osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone). However, retinoblastoma has been linked to ovarian, breast, lung, prostate and bladder cancers much later in life. The cause of the secondary cancers is not known at this time.