A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a certain condition or disease, such as cancer. In adults, lifestyle and environmental factors (such as smoking or exposure to certain chemicals) can be significant risk factors for developing certain types of cancer. In children, very few risk factors have been identified that increase the chance of developing cancer. For most children with cancer, the underlying cause is unknown.
Even if your child has a risk factor, it does not mean they will develop cancer. Many children with a risk factor will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a child with a risk factor develops cancer, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
The causes of retinoblastoma are not well understood, but factors associated with a higher chance of developing retinoblastoma include the following.
Retinoblastomas are due to a faulty RB1 gene. This faulty gene can run in families, or it may develop for the first time in the child. Most cases of retinoblastoma do not run in families.
Knowledge of your family's history relating to cancer may change over time.