New Delhi: Retinoblastoma, which is the most common tumour of the eye, accounts for one out of every nine deaths for children suffering from the disease.
According to the latest data collected by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), about 16% of kids diagnosed with retinoblastoma or childhood eye cancer in the country die of the disease. However, experts say that deaths are preventable, if the disease is detected early.
Retinoblastoma is a rare, cancerous tumour of a part of the eye called the retina. It is caused by a mutation in a gene controlling cell division, causing cells to grow out of control and become cancerous.
"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 gathered by ICMR between 2009 and 2011, of 1,561 cases of retinoblastoma detected in India, 256 children died. Retinoblastoma is responsible 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.