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Ann-Marie Leahey, MD

Attending physician

Clinical professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

I am responsible for caring for patients with retinoblastoma (a malignant tumor of the retina) and am in charge of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia retinoblastoma clinical trials. I succeed the preeminent Dr. Anna Meadows in this position, having been fortunate to be trained by her for the last 20 years.

Retinoblastoma was one of the last childhood cancer frontiers to be conquered. Previously, therapy involved radiation therapy and often surgical removal of the eye (enucleation). Children’s Hospital was among the first to pioneer systemic chemotherapy for these patients, and we partner with the renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Carol Shields at Wills Eye Institute.

Now systemic chemotherapy, used with local ophthalmic therapy, can eliminate the need for radiation therapy and/or enucleation in many patients. Historically, approximately 10 percent of children with the genetic form of the disease developed a deadly tumor called pineoblastoma. With systemic chemotherapy, we are preventing the majority of these tumors from developing.

Children's Hospital has the only certified laboratory in the U.S. to provide genetic testing for retinoblastoma. Our Genetic Predisposition to Cancer Clinic, run by my colleague Dr. Kim Nichols, provides detailed genetic counseling. We also work closely with scientists here at the University of Pennsylvania in conducting groundbreaking research into the possible causes of retinoblastoma.

I believe in hands on, patient- and family-centered care. I am in constant contact with my patients’ local pediatricians and oncologists since our patients come from all over the U.S. Our goal is to increase the number of children with retinoblastoma who can be cured and who can retain vision. Our expert clinical team and research efforts are all focused on that goal.

 

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