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November 1996

A New Era for the Treatment of Retinoblastoma

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(11):1412. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140612015

Although retinoblastoma is a rare condition, it is a tumor of scientific and public health importance. Scientifically, it has provided unique opportunities for identification of specific genetic abnormalities associated with tumor development.1 These genetic findings provide important information as to how some tumors, both ocular and systemic, develop.2,3 From a public health perspective, the importance of retinoblastoma transcends even the tragedy associated with the death of a child. Although current methods of treatment have yielded survival rates of better than 90%, these children and society have the burden of coping with the consequences of long-term visual and systemic morbidity. Current treatment, employing external beam radiation, is associated with a 35% risk of secondary cancers during a 30-year period.4 The risks of cosmetic and functional deformities are also increased by radiation therapy.5,6 Large tumors and those with vitreous seeding respond poorly to radiation therapy and often require