Retinoblastoma in Central America: report from the Central American Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology (AHOPCA)

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2012 Apr;58(4):545-50. doi: 10.1002/pbc.23307. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


Background: Retinoblastoma is highly curable in high income countries. Low income countries have poor results due to advanced disease and lack of resources. Central American Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology (AHOPCA) aimed to standardize the approach and to improve outcomes of patients with retinoblastoma.

Procedure: One hundred seventy-one patients, age <18 years newly diagnosed with retinoblastoma were treated according to laterality and stage. Therapeutic modalities were: surgery (enucleation), local control (laser therapy, cryotherapy), chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy consisted of vincristine, etoposide, and carboplatin (6 cycles). Outcomes were measured by overall survival. Events were abandonment of therapy and death.

Results: One hundred seventy-one patients (129 unilateral, 42 bilateral) were treated. Median age was 2 years 4 months; 112 (66%) were diagnosed before 3 years of age. 119 (92%) eyes in patients with unilateral disease were Reese-Ellsworth IV or V versus 52 (62%) eyes in patients with bilateral disease. Extraocular disease was more prevalent in unilateral disease (65% vs. 50%). Older age at diagnosis correlated with higher stage. Estimated overall survival at 60 months was 0.48 ± 0.04. Outcome of patients with bilateral disease was significantly better than unilateral (62% ± 0.09 vs. 42% ± 0.05, P = 0.0006). Thirty-eight patients (22%) refused or abandoned therapy.

Conclusions: Protocol-directed therapy for retinoblastoma in Central America is possible. Patients present with advanced disease and outcome is significantly worse than in middle and high-income countries. Refusal and abandonment of therapy are societal events that affect outcome. Initiatives aimed at improving early diagnosis, while dedicated treatment centers are developed, are critical.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage
  • Central America
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Eye Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Eye Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Eye Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retinoblastoma* / diagnosis
  • Retinoblastoma* / mortality
  • Retinoblastoma* / therapy
  • Survival Rate
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage


  • Vincristine
  • Etoposide
  • Carboplatin