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.