This study exposes the gap in retinoblastoma survival between rich and poor countries

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This study exposes the gap in retinoblastoma survival between rich and poor countries

Retinoblastoma is the most common form of eye cancer in children. It can be very devastating, so early diagnosis and treatment can prevent death or loss of the eye. According to a new study conducted by the International Center for Eye Health (ICEH), there is a considerable gap in the survival of children with this condition between high-income and low-income countries.

Structure of the human eye

Affected children in a low-income country are more likely to die within three years of diagnosis. In high-income countries, this risk has decreased significantly over the past decade. This is because these countries have access to effective diagnostic and treatment procedures, including centers specializing in retinoblastoma.

A glaring inequality between low-income countries and high-income countries

The team looked at survival data for 4,064 children with retinoblastoma in 149 countries at different incomes. She then analyzed the three-year survival rate after their diagnosis. The finding is shocking: 40% of children die within three years of diagnosis in low-income countries, compared to 1% in high-income countries.

The main treatments for the disease are available in all countries. However, other factors could cause the reduction in survival rate. Low-income countries do not necessarily have the means required to treat the disease and struggle to access treatment because of distance and cost. Added to this is a lack of awareness among the general public and health professionals.

Further research would be needed

The contribution of the Rb-NET network (Retinoblastoma Network) made it possible to carry out this work, with the help of the ICEH. Thanks to this collaboration, 260 retinoblastoma centers worldwide were able to share data for the study. This data sharing would strengthen clinical data archives. Thus, the information collected would help to better understand this pathology and consolidate efforts to manage and fight against it.

The majority of existing data on retinoblastoma comes from high-income countries, while affected patients in these countries account for less than 10% of global cases. Further research in low-income countries would therefore be needed toidentify the causes of this global disparity and improve results.


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