Superselective intra-arterial melphalan therapy for newly diagnosed and refractory retinoblastoma: results from a single institution

Clin Ophthalmol. 2013:7:981-9. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S43398. Epub 2013 May 27.


Background: Intra-arterial administration of melphalan chemotherapy has shown promise in the treatment of retinoblastoma. This report describes our results using superselective intra-arterial melphalan in patients with newly diagnosed retinoblastoma and those who were treated for progression after systemic chemotherapy.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of all retinoblastoma patients treated with intra-arterial melphalan at the University of California, San Francisco from March 2010 to August 2012. Twenty eyes (16 patients) underwent 40 intra-arterial melphalan infusions, and dose was determined by age. Patients were treated at monthly intervals and received a range of 1-5 treatments. Response to therapy, toxicity, and procedural radiation exposure was assessed.

Results: All patients are alive without metastatic disease at a median follow-up of 14.5 (1-29) months. Treatment with enucleation or external beam radiation was avoided in 11/20 eyes (55%) overall [6/12 (50%) in newly diagnosed eyes and 5/8 (63%) in refractory/relapsed eyes]. Response rates (per the International Classification of Retinoblastoma) were as follows: 6/7 (86%) in groups A-C and 5/13 (38%) in groups D and E. Nonhematologic and hematologic toxicities were minimal and comparable with those in previous reports. The mean procedural radiation dose was 20.2 ± 11.9 mGy per eye per procedure.

Conclusion: Superselective intra-arterial melphalan therapy is effective for less advanced eyes but further modifications to therapy are required to improve results in eyes with advanced retinoblastoma.

Keywords: intra-arterial; melphalan; retinoblastoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports