Retinoblastoma is a form of cancer that affects the eye. Young children are more likely to develop retinoblastoma than any other group. The disease can impact either one or both eyes. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it is thought that the tendency to have the disease is inherited. Treatment options for retinoblastoma vary depending on the progression of the disease and the age of the sufferer. Due to the nature of the disease, treatment may not be able to save the vision of the sufferer.
Chemotherapy is a commonly used treatment for retinoblastoma. Chemotherapy uses chemicals available in a pill form or intravenously to kill cancer cells. The treatment is often used to help reduce the size of the cancerous tumor. After the tumor has shrunk, another form of treatment is often used to kill the remaining cancerous cells. If the cancer has spread outside of the eye, chemotherapy is also used to treat the other areas of the body.
Retinoblastoma is also treated with radiation therapy. The therapy differs from chemotherapy in that it used high-energy beams to kill cancerous cells. The beams can be either internal or external. Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, slowly gives radiation to the cancerous tumor over a course of a few days. External beam radiation delivers treatment from outside the body using a high-powered beam.
Cryotherapy is sometimes used to treat retinoblastoma. Cryotherapy, or cold treatments, involves extremely cold substances to kill cancerous cells. The substance is placed onto the cells and allowed to remain for a period of time before being removed. The steps are repeated several times in order to kill the cancerous cells.
Thermotherapy, or heat treatments, are sometimes used in the treatment of retinoblastoma. Heat is directly applied to a cancerous tumor or cell using microwaves, lasers or ultrasound waves. The therapy is not commonly used, but is an option if other treatments have failed.
Surgery is a last resort method for the treatment of retinoblastoma. In most instances, it is performed when the tumor is too large to treat or to prevent the spread of the disease to other areas of the body. During surgery, the eye is removed and replaced with an eye implant. Infection and bleeding can occur following the surgery.
Consult with your physician regarding new treatments for retinoblastoma. When new treatments are available, clinical trials are often conducted to determine the effectiveness of the treatment and its impact. Your physician can provide you with information regarding the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial.
Learn as much as you can about retinoblastoma and its effect on the body. By learning more about the disease, you can be an active participant in determining the best course of treatment for the disease. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society provide literature by mail and online to aid those afflicted with the disease with learning more about the disease. Most physicians can also provide you with additional information on the disease and its treatment options.
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