Rare eye tumor may reveal disparities in care access

retinoblastoma health disparities

Retinoblastoma, a rare childhood tumor of the eye, can be detected easily during a routine pediatric visit. However, a review of cancer registry data, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, reveals that Hispanic children and children from disadvantaged areas tend to be diagnosed later than most, complicating treatment.

The reason? The researchers behind the analysis, from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Disorders Center, think it may have to do with disparities in access to primary care. In a statement, study senior author Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD, the clinical director of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Solid Tumor Center, said:

“Because retinoblastoma is most often diagnosed during well-child visits, the disparities uncovered in this study raise questions about inequities in primary care that go beyond the few children who develop this rare cancer.

The findings also tell us that, despite the advances of recent decades in the care of children with cancer, disparities still exist. These disparities may impact children in different ways, depending on the type of cancer and treatment received. It is very important to perform disease-specific studies of disparities to better assess the impact of this problem.”

Learn more about the team’s thoughts about access disparities and the timing of retinoblastoma diagnosis in JAMA Pediatrics.