NHS Introduces New Test to Detect Retinoblastoma

A new procedure has been established at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust that will allow doctors to identify a rare form of eye cancer (retinoblastoma) in babies in the womb.

The procedure is done by taking a blood sample from the mother before birth and is then tested and analysed for mutations, which can establish with nearly 100% accuracy if the baby will develop retinoblastoma.

If babies are diagnosed with retinoblastoma, then treatment can start on the affected eye as soon as the baby is born, with doctors closely monitoring the other eye for any signs. The test can also predict if the disease might develop in their siblings and will be offered to families where there is a confirmed case of retinoblastoma in the family.

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals is also creating a non-invasive post-natal cancer test for retinoblastoma patients using eye fluid – which will help identify if a patient is at risk from other cancers later in life. It’s hoped that in the future this could be eventually done by a simple blood test.

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