How is retinoblastoma treated?

Because it is usually found before it spreads outside of the sclera (white of the eye), retinoblastoma is highly curable, and there are many types of treatment that can also save eyesight. Treatments are selected based on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. Options include:

  • Photocoagulation: A laser is used to kill blood vessels that feed the tumor.
  • Cryotherapy: Extremely low temperatures are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a treatment given intravenously (injected into the vein), orally (by mouth), or injected into the eye or the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (called intrathecal chemotherapy). These powerful doses of cancer-killing medicine help kill or slow the growth of multiplying cancerous cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation might be given externally or internally. External-beam radiation therapy uses X-rays to kill cancer cells. Internal, or local radiation therapy, involves placing small amounts of radioactive material inside of or near the tumor to kill cancer cells.
  • Enucleation: This is surgery to remove the eye.

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