Retinoids are chemicals that are related to vitamin A. They are known as differentiating agents because they are thought to help some cancer cells to mature (differentiate) into normal cells.
In children with high-risk neuroblastoma, treatment with a retinoid called 13-cis-retinoic acid (isotretinoin) reduces the risk of recurrence after high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Most doctors now recommend 6 months of 13-cis-retinoic acid (taken as a capsule) once therapy is completed.
Researchers are now trying to develop more effective retinoids and to define the exact role of this approach in the treatment of neuroblastoma.
Possible Side Effects:
The most common side effect of 13-cis-retinoic acid is drying and cracking of the lips. Dry skin or eyes are also possible, as are nosebleeds and changes in the nails.
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