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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014 Jan;61(1):116-9. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24714. Epub 2013 Aug 5.

Subsequent malignancies and their effect on survival in patients with retinoblastoma.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.



As cure rates for retinoblastoma have improved, it is clear that patients with hereditary retinoblastoma experience increased risk of subsequent malignant neoplasms (SMNs).


Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, we evaluated risk of SMNs in survivors or retinoblastoma. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated to compare number of deaths observed to the expected number for the cohort. Cumulative incidence of SMNs and standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) of observed to expected SMNs were calculated


A total of 595 patients were included in the analysis. Cumulative incidence of secondary malignancy at 30 years for patients with unilateral and bilateral disease was 1.7% and 28.5%, respectively (P < 0.001). SIRs of subsequent malignancies for patients with unilateral and bilateral disease were 2.1 (95% CI = 0.6-5.4) and 38.3 (95% CI = 24.3-57.5), respectively. Patients with bilateral disease treated with and without radiotherapy both experienced an increased risk of SMNs (SIRs = 45.9, 95% CI = 26.8-73.6 and 27.3, 95% CI = 10.0-59.4, respectively). The most common cause of death for the patients with bilateral disease was subsequent malignancy (52% of deaths). Beginning in the 1990s, there was a significant decrease in the use of radiotherapy as 30.5% of patients received radiotherapy in the 1980s compared to 2.6% after 1999 (P < 0.001).


Survivors of bilateral retinoblastoma experience an increased risk of SMNs which adversely affects survival. The use of radiotherapy in the management of retinoblastoma has declined; however, patients with bilateral disease remain at an increased risk of subsequent cancers.


SEER; retinoblastoma; secondary malignancy

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