Pediatric Hematology/Oncology : Clinical Services

Retinoblastoma Program

Retinoblastoma (RB) is a rare form of cancer affecting the light-sensitive retinal cells that enable sight. Although the disease is very rare, it is the most common ocular malignancy in children and the third most common cancer to affect children —- occurring in one out of every 15,000 births. In the United States, 250 to 350 new cases are diagnosed each year —- 90 percent of which occur in children under five years of age. In the developing world, retinoblastoma will cause blindness or even death because of the lack of treatment options for such patients.

The treatment of RB depends on the size and location of the tumor and whether one or both eyes are involved. With earlier detection and improved treatments, the prognosis for vision and life for RB patients has improved significantly in the past twenty years. However, because the disease is so rare, it is essential for patients to be treated at an institution that specializes in the treatment of visually impairing diseases.

Cristina Fernandes, M.D., focuses on the treatment of Retinoblastoma, working closely with Timothy Murray, M.D., F.A.C.S., Director of Ocular Oncology at Bascom Palmer Institute to put together a comprehensive treatment plan for children affected with Retinoblastoma. Cutting-edge treatment options include:

  • Periocular chemotherapy
  • Intravitreal chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Enucleation

This program is one of only three in the nation capable of treating relapsed patients with intra-arterial chemotherapy.