A 5-day-old female patient was found to have large hereditary retinoblastomas in the posterior pole of each eye. The patient received radiation treatment over a 39-day period, with each retina receiving 4600 rad. Two weeks after the complete treatment the tumours had regressed to approximately one-quarter of their original size. By 14 weeks following completion of radiotherapy the patient had developed in each eye extensive iris neovascularisation with progressive closure of the filtration angles, secondary glaucoma, and retinal detachments resulting from fibrovascular proliferation on the retinal surface. Radiosensitivity studies were from separate conjunctival biopsies obtained before and after radiation. These showed a D0 (calculated survival curve parameters, defined in the Methods section) in the exponential growth phase of 110 prior to radiation and a postirradiation exponential growth phase D0 of 70. Karotype studies showed several chromosomal abnormalities following radiotherapy. The clinical course and pathology findings are thought to represent an unusually severe orbital and ocular response to radiation therapy. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis that some patients with hereditary retinoblastoma may have a defect in the accumulation repair of x-irradiation induced DNA damage.
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