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Retinoblastoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Recurrent Retinoblastoma Treatment

The prognosis for a patient with recurrent or progressive retinoblastoma depends on the site and extent of the recurrence or progression, as well as previous treatment. New intraocular tumors can arise in patients with the hereditary 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 hereditary retinoblastoma, surveillance may detect new tumors at an early stage and additional focal therapy, including plaque brachytherapy, can be successful in eradicating tumor.[1,2,3,4,5] 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.[6][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. Recurrence in the orbit after enucleation should be treated with aggressive chemotherapy in addition to local radiation therapy because of the high risk of metastatic disease.[7][Level of evidence: 3iiA] If the recurrence or progression is extraocular, the chance of survival is probably less than 50%. In this circumstance, the treatment depends on many factors and individual patient considerations and clinical trials may be appropriate and should be considered.

Current Clinical Trials

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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Kim JW, Kathpalia V, Dunkel IJ, et al.: Orbital recurrence of retinoblastoma following enucleation. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (4): 463-7, 2009.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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