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Retinoblastoma: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Thursday, 11 Nov 2010 03:55 PM

Retinoblastoma cancer affects the retina in one or both of the eyes – it spreads quickly and symptoms may appear almost immediately. This cancer appears mostly in children, and their pupils may appear white with red spots. Children may have crossed eyes, double vision, misaligned eyes, poor vision, and different colored irises in both eyes.
If there is a family history of cancer, you should get checked for retinoblastoma. Extensive genetic screening tests are able to catch the disease early by checking for a mutation in the gene RB1. About 40% of the time, instances of retinoblastoma cancer also appear in families who have no history of cancer at all. Most of these cancers are easy to treat and they can be completely resolved if detected early.
Retinoblastoma treatment involves several choices, including chemotherapy and radiation, and the oncologist in charge will decide the exact treatment. It is becoming increasingly important to find a treatment that will not cause the child to lose his or her eyesight completely. A few of the newest treatment innovations include these choices:
1.The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center have created a brand-new technique that will deliver the chemotherapy drug directly into the eye’s artery and the cancer itself. This saves the patient a considerable amount of side effects and allows the chemotherapy drug to be delivered directly to the cancer. The procedure takes one hour and the tumor shows visible regression in three weeks time.
2. Suicide Gene therapy is another technique. Doctors manufacture special viral particles that are then injected directly into the ophthalmic blood vessels. This, when combined with strong IV chemotherapy medication, attacks and kills only the targeted tumor cells.

3. Researchers at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have found a new technique that causes most retinoblastoma cells to show regression. A chemical molecule blocks the cancer progression and can actually cause the cancer to regress. The molecule is also applied directly on the eye, having the best effects topically.

4.The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have developed a process known as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, which can actually check embryos before implantation to find out whether they have the cancer.

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