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Retinoblastoma Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version
Last Modified: 12/06/2013

Recurrent Intraocular Retinoblastoma Treatment

Current Clinical Trials

The prognosis for a patient with recurrent or progressive retinoblastoma depends on the site and extent of the recurrence or progression and previous treatment. Metastasis in retinoblastoma generally occurs within 1 year of diagnosis.[1] New intraocular tumors can arise in patients with the heritable form of disease whose eyes have been treated with focal measures only, since every cell in the retina carries the RB1 mutation; this is not technically recurrence. Even with prior treatment consisting of chemoreduction and focal measures in very young patients with heritable retinoblastoma, surveillance may detect new tumors at an early stage and additional focal therapy, including plaque brachytherapy, can be successful in eradicating tumor.[2-6] When the recurrence or progression of retinoblastoma is confined to the eye and is small, the prognosis for sight and survival may be excellent with local therapy only.[7][Level of evidence: 3iiDiv] If the recurrence or progression is confined to the eye but is extensive, the prognosis for sight is poor; however, survival remains excellent. Intra-arterial chemotherapy into the ophthalmic artery has been effective in patients who relapse after systemic chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[8] Recurrence in the orbit after enucleation is treated with aggressive chemotherapy in addition to local radiation therapy because of the high risk of metastatic disease.[9][Level of evidence: 3iiA] If the recurrence or progression is extraocular, the chance of survival is poor, with death usually occurring within 6 months.[1] In this circumstance, the treatment depends on many factors, including individual patient considerations. Clinical trials may be appropriate to consider.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent retinoblastoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

  1. Broaddus E, Topham A, Singh AD: Survival with retinoblastoma in the USA: 1975-2004. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (1): 24-7, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Shields CL, Honavar SG, Shields JA, et al.: Factors predictive of recurrence of retinal tumors, vitreous seeds, and subretinal seeds following chemoreduction for retinoblastoma. Arch Ophthalmol 120 (4): 460-4, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Gombos DS, Kelly A, Coen PG, et al.: Retinoblastoma treated with primary chemotherapy alone: the significance of tumour size, location, and age. Br J Ophthalmol 86 (1): 80-3, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Shields CL, Shelil A, Cater J, et al.: Development of new retinoblastomas after 6 cycles of chemoreduction for retinoblastoma in 162 eyes of 106 consecutive patients. Arch Ophthalmol 121 (11): 1571-6, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Lee TC, Hayashi NI, Dunkel IJ, et al.: New retinoblastoma tumor formation in children initially treated with systemic carboplatin. Ophthalmology 110 (10): 1989-94; discussion 1994-5, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Wilson MW, Haik BG, Billups CA, et al.: Incidence of new tumor formation in patients with hereditary retinoblastoma treated with primary systemic chemotherapy: is there a preventive effect? Ophthalmology 114 (11): 2077-82, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Chan MP, Hungerford JL, Kingston JE, et al.: Salvage external beam radiotherapy after failed primary chemotherapy for bilateral retinoblastoma: rate of eye and vision preservation. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (7): 891-4, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Schaiquevich P, Ceciliano A, Millan N, et al.: Intra-arterial chemotherapy is more effective than sequential periocular and intravenous chemotherapy as salvage treatment for relapsed retinoblastoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 60 (5): 766-70, 2013.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Kim JW, Kathpalia V, Dunkel IJ, et al.: Orbital recurrence of retinoblastoma following enucleation. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (4): 463-7, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]