David Abramson (right), Chief of the Ophthalmic Oncology Service, educates medical trainees.
The Retinoblastoma Program of the Ophthalmic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has managed more patients than any other cancer center in the world. The Service has helped to advance the use of cutting-edge vision-saving techniques, including external beam radiation, radioactive plaques (a therapy in which radioactive discs are inserted directly into the affected eye), laser therapy, cryotherapy (a therapy in which smaller tumors are frozen), and chemoreduction (a therapy that uses chemotherapy to shrink the tumor).
With more than 12,000 examinations for retinoblastoma, our ophthalmic oncologist has unmatched experience in the diagnosis of retinoblastoma and of conditions that look like retinoblastoma.
Our multidisciplinary approach allows children to receive all their pediatric oncology care, ophthalmic oncology, and radiation oncology treatments under general anesthesia at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Once a diagnosis has been made, our patients receive treatment in a suite of examination and treatment rooms dedicated exclusively to retinoblastoma.
Our dedicated team of nurses cares for your child during outpatient visits and inpatient hospital stays. Nurse practitioners work in collaboration with the primary physicians on your child’s team to oversee care. This allows our nurses to assess your child’s needs, triage symptoms, and if necessary, make referrals to other departments within Memorial Sloan Kettering. Nurse practitioners and registered nurses can also help your child and family understand the details of the treatment plan and what to expect throughout the course of treatment.
Our social workers provide counseling, offer information, and assistance throughout the course of treatment, and can guide and direct you to resources you may need. Child life specialists, teachers, and session and physician office assistants all work together to meet your child’s non-clinical needs.
Innovative Chemotherapy Treatments
For children with retinoblastoma in their eyes only, we use a mild form of chemotherapy to avoid or delay radiation therapy whenever possible. We have introduced a new treatment for certain patients, in which chemotherapy is injected around the eye instead of being given intravenously. This can be more effective and also avoids some of the side effects of intravenous chemotherapy. This new treatment is discussed in greater detail in the journal Ophthalmology.
Unique Treatment Approaches for Metastatic Retinoblastoma
Retinoblastoma tumors that have metastasized outside the eye are often described as being incurable. However, at Memorial Sloan Kettering we have successfully treated children with disease that has spread to their bones, bone marrow, and liver with intensive chemotherapy. The results have been very promising. A new intrathecal medication (given into the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) is available for patients whose retinoblastoma has spread to the surface of the brain. This procedure is discussed in the journal Cancer.
You may wish to have a formal consultation at the Retinoblastoma Program of Memorial Sloan Kettering. Feel free to contact us at 212-639-7232; we will be happy to discuss your child’s condition with you and organize a formal consultation if you want one.