Deciding on the Right Retinoblastoma Treatment Option

Pediatric retinoblastoma can lead to loss of vision and even fatality. That’s why it’s critical to treat retinoblastoma quickly and using a treatment option that’s catered to the patient’s condition, age, and underlying considerations.

After a retinoblastoma diagnosis, it’s important to work closely with your child’s doctor to determine the best treatment option for your child and family. There are a number of treatment options and combinations available to design a plan that caters to your child’s best possible outcome.

 Surgical Treatment Options

Surgery to remove retinoblastoma tumors is a common treatment option, especially when retinoblastoma only occurs in one eye.

In many cases, the affected eye is removed, which is called enucleation. Enucleation can be successful in curing retinoblastoma and children usually adapt quickly to the change, especially if they are young. The placement of a prosthetic eye can help your child to avoid standing out after the surgery, though there is no way to restore vision after the eye has been removed.

Chemotherapy or Drug Treatment

Retinoblastoma ChemotherapyChemotherapy is often selected when a child has retinoblastoma in both eyes, as there is a potential to retain vision in the affected eye. Chemotherapy uses medication to kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. Chemotherapy is usually administered in phases and an IV or pill may be given depending on the child’s age and the goals of the treatment.

Chemotherapy can have side effects, so you should talk to your child’s doctor about these before opting for chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also be most helpful when combined with other treatments.

Cryotherapy to Freeze Cancer Cells

Cryotherapy is a treatment that works by freezing cancer cells. Cryotherapy is also called cryosurgery when the cold temperatures are used to destroy cells. Cryotherapy works best for children that have small tumors that are near the front of their eyes and isn’t usually used when there are multiple tumors throughout the eyes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy for RetinoblastomaRadiation therapy uses x-rays and other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. In very young children, radiation therapy can interfere with growth and development, so radiation therapy might not be best for retinoblastoma if there are still other options that can be explored. Nausea, vomiting, and headaches are also common side effects of radiation therapy, which can unsettling and affect feelings of well being.

External beam radiation therapy has been linked to recurrence of tumors later in life for children with the hereditary form of retinoblastoma. Radioactive plaque therapy, which delivers radiation directly to the eye instead of to the body as a whole, doesn’t carry the same risks of recurrence but may still have side effects.

Participating In Clinical Trials

Since cancer in kids is somewhat rare and every case can be different, clinical trials are often used to treat retinoblastoma. Clinical trials can be helpful when other treatment methods haven’t been effective. Participating in a clinical trial can allow your child access to some of the newest treatments available.

When considering possible treatment methods for retinoblastoma, asking your child’s doctor the following questions may help you to narrow down the treatment that will work best for your child and family:

  • What are the common side effects of each treatment method?
  • Could retinoblastoma treatment side affects exacerbate other existing conditions?
  • How long does treatment usually take?
  • Could this treatment affect growth and development?
  • What is the rate of cancer recurrence with this treatment method?
  • Will this treatment work well with infants/toddlers/young children?

Next Steps

If your child is facing retinoblastoma treatment, we wish the best for you and your family. In the event that you feel that a health care practitioner’s negligence or incompetence was responsible for the severity of your child’s health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can investigate a malpractice lawsuit to earn your family financial compensation that can assist with medical bills and help bring some peace of mind.