Retinoblastoma is a childhood cancer which affects the retina of the eye. The retina is the light sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eyeball; sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When only one eye is affected, this is known as unilateral retinoblastoma and when both eyes are affected, it is called bilateral retinoblastoma. Treatment for retinoblastoma is individualized for each patient and is based on the form and the stage of the disease (inside the eye or has moved outside). The main goal is always to cure the cancer, and save the life of the child. Treatments are also designed with the hope of saving the vision, while completely destroying the tumor. Therapies may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments called focal treatments. Focal treatments may be laser therapy, freezing, or heat treatments meant to shrink and kill the tumor.
In this study, researchers want to investigate how different participants respond to different therapies that are individualized specifically for them. Participants will be divided into three main groups, depending on whether the disease is unilateral or bilateral, and the stage of the disease. One of the main objectives of the study is to investigate how advanced tumors in children with bilateral disease respond to a new combination of chemotherapy with topotecan and vincristine, with G-CSF support. In order to improve results, some children with very advanced disease may receive carboplatin chemotherapy given around the eye at the same time that they receive topotecan by vein. Also, because children with retinoblastoma are diagnosed so early in life and the vision may be significantly impaired, this study will investigate how children develop and how the brain adjusts and compensates for the visual deficits. Finally, this study also investigates the biology of retinoblastoma, in order to understand better how this cancer develops.
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