Cytomegalovirus disease in a retinoblastoma cohort: The role of preemptive screening

Mi Seon Han, Eun Hwa Choi, Hoan Jong Lee, Ki Wook Yun, Hyoung Jin Kang, Kyung Taek Hong, Jung Yoon Choi, Hee Young Shin

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Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease is underrecognized in children with retinoblastoma. This study investigated rates of CMV infection and disease in this specific population receiving chemotherapy. Methods: From a cohort of 164 patients with retinoblastoma diagnosed from 2011 to 2018, 107 patients were evaluated for CMV infection determined by antigenemia assay or real-time PCR. Preemptive CMV screening was implemented in 2013. CMV disease was diagnosed by tissue biopsy, culture, or ophthalmic examination. Results: Thirty-seven and 70 patients before and after the screening strategy, respectively, were included. Before screening, 10/37 (27%) were diagnosed with CMV infection during chemotherapy. Among them, 5 (50%) developed CMV disease (hepatitis, pneumonia, and retinitis) and one patient died of CMV pneumonia. During screening, 18/70 (26%) were documented with 36 episodes of CMV infection and 9 patients received 25 preemptive antiviral therapies. Age at chemotherapy tended to be younger in patients with CMV infection, and fewer were seronegative prior to chemotherapy. Patients who started chemotherapy at <12 months of age received preemptive therapies significantly more often than those started at ≥12 months. Two (11%) out of 18 patients with CMV infection developed CMV retinitis and colitis, and there were no fatal cases. Preemptive therapy along with active CMV screening significantly reduced the risk of developing CMV disease, from 14% to 2.9% (P = 0.047). Conclusions: Children with retinoblastoma can experience significant morbidity and even mortality from CMV infection during chemotherapy in Korea. Preemptive screening and appropriate antiviral therapy can reduce the development of CMV disease and subsequent mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28101
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • cytomegalovirus
  • retinoblastoma
  • screening

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