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St. Jude announces breakthrough in eye cancer treatment

body chemotherapy for certain cancers.

This work is likely to have its biggest impact on the care of children with retinoblastoma internationally, according to Dyer. Most children in the United States with retinoblastoma do not die from the disease because they benefit from early detection and advanced medical treatment. The complex treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation and laser therapy, as well as control of infections caused by treatment-related suppression of the immune system. However, most of the 5,000 children worldwide who are found to have retinoblastoma live primarily in countries with limited resources and have restricted access to medical treatment, according to Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Oncology department.

"Today, those children do not have access to the advanced treatments available in other countries, such as the United States," Rodriguez-Galindo said, "but our new approach has the potential to make the treatment of retinoblastoma simpler and less toxic. Ideally, these treatments could be administered even in countries that cannot afford the highly complex infrastructure now required to manage children with retinoblastoma. This would mean saving many more lives and preserving more vision." Rodriguez-Galindo is a co-author of the paper.

Retinoblastoma can occur as a unilateral (one eye) or bilateral (both eyes) disease. In the case of unilateral disease, surgeons generally remove the eye that has the cancer in order to prevent the disease from spreading. However, children with bilateral retinoblastoma pose a significant challenge to physicians, who are reluctant to remove both eyes from young children, said Matthew Wilson, M.D., a surgeon in the St. Jude ophthalmology division and a co-author of the paper. In those cases, the physicians institute aggressive systemic chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor, followed by one of several possible therapies such as radiation or
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Source:St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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