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Clinical science
Non-ocular tumours following retinoblastoma in Great Britain 1951 to 2004
  1. A MacCarthy1,
  2. A M Bayne1,
  3. G J Draper1,
  4. E M Eatock1,
  5. M E Kroll1,
  6. C A Stiller1,
  7. T J Vincent1,
  8. M M Hawkins2,
  9. H C Jenkinson3,
  10. J E Kingston4,
  11. R Neale5,
  12. M F G Murphy1
  1. 1
    Childhood Cancer Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2
    Centre for Childhood Cancer Survivor Studies, Department of Public Health & Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3
    The Retinoblastoma Service, The Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4
    The Retinoblastoma Service, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK
  5. 5
    Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ms A MacCarthy, Childhood Cancer Research Group, University of Oxford, 57 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HJ, UK; angela.maccarthy{at}


Background: Retinoblastoma occurs in both a heritable and a non-heritable form. In the heritable form, there is a predisposition to the development of non-ocular tumours.

Objectives: To identify the types of non-ocular tumour occurring in retinoblastoma survivors and to produce estimates of risk for these tumours.

Methods: We carried out a cohort study that included 1927 cases of retinoblastoma diagnosed in Great Britain between 1951 and 2004. Cases were ascertained through the National Registry of Childhood Tumours and followed up for the occurrence of non-ocular tumours using the routine notification system based on the National Health Service Central Registers in Britain.

Results: Of the 1927 cases, 809 were known to have the heritable form of the disease and 1118 assumed to have the non-heritable form. 102 of the heritable and 13 of those classified as non-heritable developed a non-ocular tumour. The cumulative risk of developing such a tumour 50 years after retinoblastoma diagnosis was 48.3% (95% confidence interval: 38.1 to 59.7%) in the heritable and 4.9% (1.9 to 12.4%) in the non-heritable cases. The main categories of non-ocular tumours observed in the heritable cases were soft-tissue sarcomas (36 of which 21 were leiomyosarcoma), osteosarcoma (32), carcinoma (13), brain and central nervous system tumours (10), melanoma (9), leukaemia (4) and others (4). There were a total of 108 non-ocular tumours in 102 cases.

Conclusions: There is a high risk of non-ocular tumours occurring in survivors of heritable retinoblastoma. These results have important implications for the clinical follow-up and counselling of survivors.

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  • Funding The Childhood Cancer Research Group receives Core Programme funding from the Department of Health and the Scottish Ministers. The funding agencies had no role in the design, conduct, reporting or decision to publish the study. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health and the Scottish Ministers. We are grateful to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust for financial support for work on this study. RN is supported by an NHMRC(Aust) Sidney Sax Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None.

  • See Editorial, p 1129

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Oxfordshire Research Ethics Committee (Oxfordshire REC C, Ref 07/Q1606/45).

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