Cryotherapy treatment for retinoblastoma

continued . . .

Cryotherapy is another treatment which is performed under local or general anesthesia and freezes smaller retinoblastoma tumors. A pen-like probe is placed on the sclera adjacent to the tumor and the tumor is frozen. Cryotherapy usually has to be repeated many times to successfully destroy all of the cancer cells. Cryotherapy causes the lids and eye to swell for 1 to 5 days; sometimes the swelling is so much that the children are unable to open their lids for a few days; this can be frightening for the child and parents, but is usually harmless. Eye drops or ointment can be given to reduce the swelling.

Chemoreduction is the treatment of retinoblastoma with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is given intravenously to your child, passes through the blood stream, and causes the tumors to shrink within a few weeks if successful. Chemotherapy, with one or more drugs, can be given once, twice, or more.

Depending on the drug(s) and on the institution, the child may or may not be hospitalized during this process. After chemotherapy, the child is re-examined and the remaining tumor(s) are treated with cryotherapy, laser, or radioactive plaque. Children may require as many as twenty treatments with re-examinations of the eye under anesthesia every 3 weeks.

Although it is rare if the retinoblastoma is treated promptly, retinoblastoma can spread (metastasize) outside of the eye to the brain, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and the bones. In this cases, chemotherapy is prescribed by a pediatric oncologist and is administered through the peripheral blood vessels or into the brain for months to years after inital diagnosis of metastatic disease.

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