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Cancer Health Center

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Retinoblastoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview

There are different types of treatment for patients with retinoblastoma.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with retinoblastoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Because cancer in children is rare, taking part in a clinical trial should be considered. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Children with retinoblastoma should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating cancer in children.

The goals of treatment are to save the child's life, to save vision and the eye, and to prevent serious side effects. Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other health care providers who are experts in treating children with eye cancer and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include a pediatric ophthalmologist (children's eye doctor) who has a lot of experience in treating retinoblastoma and the following specialists:

  • Pediatric surgeon.
  • Radiation oncologist.
  • Pediatrician.
  • Pediatric nurse specialist.
  • Rehabilitation specialist.
  • Psychologist.
  • Social workers.
  • Geneticist or genetic counselor.

Some cancer treatments cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.

Side effects from cancer treatment that begin during or after treatment and continue for months or years are called late effects. Late effects of treatment for retinoblastoma may include the following:

  • Physical problems such as trouble hearing clearly or, if the eye is removed, a change in the shape and size of the bone around the eye.
  • Changes in mood, feelings, thinking, learning, or memory.
  • Second cancers (new types of cancer), such as osteosarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, or melanoma.

Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about the effects cancer treatment can have on your child. (See the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information.)

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