Treatments for extraocular retinoblastoma

Extraocular retinoblastoma is retinoblastoma that has spread from the eye to other parts of the body. The following are treatment options for extraocular retinoblastoma. The healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your child’s needs and work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan. Depending on where the retinoblastoma has spread, your child may have one or more of these treatments.


Your child may be offered systemic chemotherapy for extraocular retinoblastoma. Your child may have chemotherapy alone or along with other treatments, such as radiation therapy. It may be used before or after surgery. Intrathecal chemotherapy may be used for retinoblastoma that has spread to the brain.


Your child may be offered surgery to remove the eye (called enucleation) as a treatment for extraocular retinoblastoma. Chemotherapy may be given before and after surgery.

Stem cell transplant

Your child may be offered high-dose chemotherapy with an autologous stem cell transplant for extraocular retinoblastoma that has spread to the brain and spinal cord (called the central nervous system, or CNS) or other distant sites.

Radiation therapy

Your child may be offered radiation therapy for extraocular retinoblastoma. The type of radiation therapy used is external beam radiation therapy. If retinoblastoma has reached the CNS, craniospinal radiation therapy may be used as well.

Clinical trials

Many children with retinoblastoma are treated in a clinical trial. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Treating Retinoblastoma. 2015.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Retinoblastoma - Childhood. 2015.
  • Canadian Retinoblastoma Society . National Retinoblastoma Strategy Canadian Guidelines for Care. Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology. NRC Research Press; 2009.
  • Hurwitz RL, Shields CL, Shields JA, et al . Retinoblastoma. Pizzo, P. A. & Poplack, D. G. (Eds.). Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 27: pp. 809-837.
  • Imbach P . Retinoblastoma. Imbach P, Kuhne T, Arceci RJ (eds.). Pediatric Oncology: A Comprehensive Guide. 3rd ed. Cham, CH: Springer; 2014: 15: 173-180.
  • National Cancer Institute. RetinoblastomaTreatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2016.
  • National Cancer Institute. Retinoblastoma Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2016.