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Intra-arterial chemotherapy for retinoblastoma

What is intra-arterial chemotherapy for retinoblastoma?

Intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) is a treatment that allows us to deliver cancer-fighting medications directly to a cancer tumor. Instead of giving your child chemotherapy that affects his or her whole body, we can focus only on the eye, where the cancer is. This means your child will have fewer side effects.

How we use this therapy

This procedure is done under general anesthesia, so your child is not awake and does not feel anything. A doctor who specializes in this procedure then inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter into a large artery, near the the hip. The doctor slowly feeds the catheter through your child’s arteries until it reaches a point just behind the retina of the affected eye.

While the catheter is in place, the doctor releases the chemotherapy treatment into the artery in the eye to directly attack the cancer cells.

Your child will likely need multiple treatments, spaced about four weeks apart. Based on how well IAC works for your child, we will decide how many treatments are needed. In some cases, your doctor may recommend more IAC treatments or other forms of cancer treatments. 

Why choose Vanderbilt

Our team of doctors specializing in retinoblastoma evaluate each child together to determine if IAC is right for your child. We consider how it affects vision, which chemotherapy medications should be used and how this treatment fits in with other treatments for retinoblastoma.

Vanderbilt is the only center in the state of Tennessee that provides not only IAC, but all treatment options for retinoblastoma. We are also the only center in Tennessee with all specialists under one roof and investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct state-of-the-art research to improve outcomes.