ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of children who will be diagnosed with retinoblastoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.
Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for your child individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.
How many children are diagnosed with retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma makes up 2% of all cancers diagnosed in children before the age of 15. It is the most common eye cancer in children. An estimated 200 to 300 children in the United States will be diagnosed annually with the disease.
Most children who are diagnosed with retinoblastoma are younger than 6 years old. The average age of diagnosis is 2. Girls and boys are diagnosed at equal rates, as are children of different races and ethnicities. Generally, 3 out of 4 children with retinoblastoma have the disease in 1 eye. The disease is found equally in the left eye and right eye. About 25% of children with retinoblastoma have the disease in both eyes. About 70% to 80% of eyes can be saved in children with the disease in both eyes.
What is the survival rate for children with retinoblastoma?
There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from retinoblastoma. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with retinoblastoma are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.
Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.
It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for children with retinoblastoma are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.
The 5-year relative survival rate for children with retinoblastoma is 97%.
The survival rates for retinoblastoma vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.
Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for children with retinoblastoma every 5 years. this means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how children with retinoblastoma are diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital websites. Additional source was: Seigel R, et al.: Cancer Statistics 2023. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2023 Jan; 73(1):17–48. doi/full/10.3322/caac.21763. (All sources accessed March 2023.)
The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of the parts of the eye often affected by retinoblastoma. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.