Purpose: The mortality rate of patients with retinoblastoma still varies in developing countries, and data for Asia and Taiwan are relatively scarce. In this retrospective study, we aimed to describe the survival characteristics and prognostic factors of 54 retinoblastoma cases diagnosed at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital between 1982 and 2004. Methods: From medical records, we retrospectively analyzed the data of 54 consecutive children diagnosed in our hospital between 1982 and 2004 as having retinoblastoma. Data on sex, laterality, age at diagnosis, presenting signs, family history, duration of symptoms, lag time for treatment, spread of tumor, treatment mode, and survival time were collected. Results: Seventy-five percent of the cases were unilateral and 25% of the cases were bilateral. The mean patient age at the time of diagnosis was 26.3 months. The mean duration of symptoms was 2.96 months. After diagnosis, the mean lag time before treatment was 2.59 months. The most common presenting signs were leukocoria (71.4%), red, painful, or tearing eye (18.4%), strabismus (14.3%), and blurred vision (14.3%). Only 3 of 52 cases (5.8%) were familial. The most common sites of extraocular invasion included the central nervous system (seven cases) and the orbit (seven cases). In 13.7% of the cases, parents had refused the treatment suggested by the doctors. None of the patients developed a secondary neoplasm. The 5-year overall survival rate was 80.9% (unilateral, 88.1%; bilateral, 64.3%). The survival rate of patients with an interval between onset and treatment of <5 months was 90.9%, and that for an interval of >5 months was 60.9%. The survival rate of those with a lag time of <2.5 months was 90.0%, and that of those with one of >2.5 months was 31.3%. The survival rate of patients with intraocular and extraocular disease was 96.9% and 39.2%, respectively. Extraocular disease was an independent factor indicating a poor prognosis, determined by multivariate analysis. Conclusions: The mortality rate of patients with retinoblastoma is higher in Taiwan than in developed countries. The proportion of patients' parents refusing or delaying treatment in Taiwan is high. The factors for a poor prognosis were an interval between onset and treatment of >5 months, a lag time before treatment of >2.5 months, and extraocular disease. The duration of symptoms was not a prognostic factor. The only independent factor indicating a poor prognosis was extraocular disease.
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