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J Clin Oncol. 2000 Aug;18(15):2881-7.

First-line chemotherapy with local treatment can prevent external-beam irradiation and enucleation in low-stage intraocular retinoblastoma.

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Pediatric Department, Hematology-Oncology Unit, and Department of Radiooncology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, and Jules Gonin Eye Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.



To evaluate the efficacy of first-line chemotherapy (CT) in preventing external-beam radiotherapy (EBR) and/or enucleation in patients with retinoblastoma (Rbl).


Twenty-four patients with newly diagnosed unilateral or bilateral Rbl received CT associated with local treatment (LT). Two to five courses of etoposide and carboplatin were administered at 3- to 4-week intervals, depending on tumor response, and were completed each time by LT.


Tumor response was observed in all eyes. Twenty-one of 24 patients showed a complete response (CR) that persisted at a median follow-up (FU) of 31 months (range, 4 to 41 months). Among the three patients who relapsed, two were lost to FU and one died of progressive disease. CR was achieved by CT and LT alone in 15 (71.4%) of 21 patients with less advanced disease (groups I to III). Six other patients with advanced disease (groups IV and V) experienced treatment failure and needed salvage treatment by EBR and/or enucleation. The difference between the two patient groups with regard to disease stage was statistically significant (P <.0001). EBR could be avoided in 13 (68.4%) of 19 patients, who presented with groups I to III (15 eyes) and group V (one eye) disease, whereas enucleation could be avoided in only two (40%) of five.


CT combined with intensive LT is effective in patients with groups I to III Rbl, permitting the avoidance of EBR in the majority of these young children and, thus, reducing the risk of long-term sequelae. This is in contrast with the disappointing results for patients with groups IV and V Rbl, in whom EBR and/or enucleation was needed.

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