MUMBAI: One out of every nine children suffering from retinoblastoma or childhood eye cancer, die of the disease.
Data collected by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) says that the disease has about 16% mortality rate. However, deaths are avoidable, say experts, if the disease is detected early.
Retinoblastoma is a rapidly developing cancer of the retina (the light detecting tissue of the eye) and is likely to manifest in children having an abnormal retinoblastoma gene.
“If someone in the family had retinoblastoma, regular eye check-ups till the age of four are important,” said Dr G Kumaramanickavel, advisor of academics, research and management at Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Wadala.
As per figures collected by ICMR between 2009 and 2011, of 1,561 cases of retinoblastoma detected in India, 256 children died. Retinoblastoma accounts for about 3.5% of total childhood cancers in the country, and about 2.6% in Mumbai.
“The cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Early detection can preserve vision. However, most patients come to us at an advanced stage,” said Dr S Natarajan, MD of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital.
Dr Natarajan will help all the major referral hospitals to create a registry of these cases. “Mumbai will be the focus as most of the cases come here for treatment,” said Dr Natarajan.