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Intra-arterial chemotherapy (or melphalan)

Since 2009 a new type of treatment became available in the UK.

This treatment is used when a tumour recurs despite both first line and second line therapy.

This treatment is called intra–arterial chemotherapy or IAC (sometimes referred to as intra-arterial melphalan or IAM) and it is a method of delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to the eye rather then around the whole body as systemic chemotherapy does.

The child has an anaesthetic for this treatment.  The procedure involves passing a tiny catheter (plastic tube) through the femoral artery (the artery in the groin) through the patient’s blood vessels, all the way up until it is in the ophthalmic artery (the artery in the eye).

Once the catheter is in place the chemotherapy drug is administered via the tube and is able to work directly on the tumour/s in the eye. The entire procedure takes about an hour.

Once the chemotherapy is given the catheter is removed and the site compressed to stop bleeding.  Most children are given intra-arterial chemotherapy once or twice.

As the chemotherapy is given directly to the eye and not to the whole body system this method usually avoids the side effects of sickness, nausea, hair loss and suppression of the immune system which is normally associated with chemotherapy.

As with all treatments if the doctors feel this is a treatment option for your child they will discuss it in detail.


The 'Intra-arterial chemotherapy' leaflet is downloadable here.


See the menu on the left for further treatment options.


My Story

Click here for stories of people affected by intra-arterial chemotherapy