The histopathology of 61 eyes was studied with special attention to the morphology of the retina adjacent to the main tumour. Three retinal types were distinguished. Retina type 1 (RT-1, 28 specimens) contained a single tumour that was sharply demarcated from surrounding normal retina. In retina type 2 (RT-2, 29 specimens) large parts of the retina were affected and the main tumour mass gradually blended with the adjacent pathological retina. Retina type 3 (RT-3, four specimens) was characterised by a retina almost entirely affected by diffuse tumour growth. RT-1 correlated significantly with early enucleation (0-3 years) both in hereditary and non-hereditary cases. RT-2 was seen in eyes enucleated later (2-5 years). The progressing tumour may release growth factors in the intraocular space that stimulate the cells of the adjacent retina and lead to multiple new primary tumours in the adjacent retinal area. RT-3 was only present in non-hereditary cases with late enucleation (at 2-5 years). Hereditary retinoblastoma cases are usually detected early. Therefore in hereditary cases RT-1 is significantly more common than RT-2. In 25 eyes of the 44 patients with unilateral sporadic retinoblastoma, multifocal tumours of the retina were observed. Such cases should not mistakenly be classified as hereditary cases on the basis of the histological pattern of multifocality of the tumour process.
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