Cancer Home > Diagnosing Retinoblastoma

When diagnosing retinoblastoma, the doctor will usually perform a physical exam and review the patient's medical history. During a physical exam, the doctor making a retinoblastoma diagnosis will feel the affected area for any lumps or bumps. Tests used to make a retinoblastoma diagnosis include a dilated eye exam, CT scan, and MRI test.

Diagnosing Retinoblastoma: An Introduction

If a person has possible symptoms of retinoblastoma, the doctor may do a physical exam and ask about the patient's personal and family medical history. In order to help make a retinoblastoma diagnosis, the doctor will also recommend additional tests and procedures that examine the eye and surrounding tissue.

Diagnosing Retinoblastoma: Physical Exam and Medical History

During the physical exam, the doctor feels the affected area for any lumps or bumps. Healthcare providers will likely take a history of the patient's health habits, family history of any medical conditions, and past illnesses and treatments. The doctor will ask if there is a family history of retinoblastoma.

Diagnosing Retinoblastoma: Exams and Tests

The exams and tests used to make a retinoblastoma diagnosis may include the following:
  • Eye exam with dilated pupil
  • Ultrasound exam
  • CT (computed tomography) scan
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
Retinoblastoma is usually diagnosed without a biopsy (removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer).
Eye Exam With Dilated Pupil
During an eye exam, the pupil is dilated (opened wider) with medicated eyedrops to allow the doctor to look through the lens and pupil to the retina. The inside of the eye, including the retina and the optic nerve, is examined using a light. Depending on the age of the child, this exam may be done under anesthesia.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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