Risk factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a certain condition or disease. Researchers know about some risk factors that increase the chance of developing cancer. However, for most children with cancer, the cause is unknown.

What we do know is that if a child develops cancer, it’s not because of something they, or their parents did to cause it. No one is to blame if a child develops cancer.

Even if your child has a risk factor, it doesn’t 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, the risk factor may not have had much to do with it.

Researchers don’t completely understand what causes retinoblastoma. Children with a positive family history of retinoblastoma are at high risk of developing this cancer.


Family history

Retinoblastoma develops because of abnormalities in a specific gene called RB1. This faulty gene can run in families, or it may develop for the first time in the child. About one in three children have retinoblastomas that run in families.1