UW Health offers new way to treat eye cancer in children

UW Health East Madison Hospital
UW Health East Madison Hospital(UW Health)
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 12:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - – UW Health is offering a new way to treat the most common type of eye cancer in children.

Dr. Margo Hoover-Regan, pediatric oncologist and clinical director of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program, UW Health Kids, and associate professor, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and Dr. Sudarshawn Damodharan, pediatric hematology/oncology fellow, UW Health, are using intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) to deliver anti-tumor drugs directly to the tumor bed in the retina to treat retinoblastoma.

“And so this modality is unique in that the chemotherapy is actually administered directly into the blood vessel that feeds the tumor and the eye. And in that way, can spare the rest of the body from a lot of the harmful effects of chemotherapy and can effectively treat the tumor,” said Dr. Margo Hoover-Regan

Retinoblastoma is caused by a genetic mutation. If the mutation is carried by the parents, it will likely affect both eyes of the child. In cases when the mutation was not passed down from the parents, only one eye may be involved.

IAC allows clinicians to deliver a higher concentration of chemotherapeutic drugs with great precision into the ophthalmic artery ostium. It typically requires two treatments over two months, with an examination by the ophthalmologist under anesthesia to determine effectiveness. In most cases, there is full remission, and the eye is saved.

Retinoblastoma arises as a tumor in the retina, accounting for 3% of cancers in children younger than 15 years of age. Most cases, however, are diagnosed before 2 years of age. Early treatment is essential to save the eye and avoid later involvement of the central nervous system and other organs.