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Retinoblastoma Screening

The concept of "retinoblastoma screening" refers to testing people for the cancer when they exhibit no symptoms of the disease. A routine, effective retinoblastoma screening test has not yet been developed; however, doctors are aware of certain factors that can lead to an increased risk of developing retinoblastoma. If you believe your child is at risk for developing retinoblastoma or may possibly have symptoms of the disease, talk to your doctor. Although there is not yet a retinoblastoma screening test, there are diagnostic tests available to identify cancer in people who are experiencing possible symptoms of the disease.

Retinoblastoma Screening: An Overview

"Retinoblastoma screening" refers to the testing of people for early stages of retinoblastoma even though they have no symptoms of the cancer. A routine, effective retinoblastoma screening test has not yet been developed.

Understanding Cancer Screening

While there is not yet a retinoblastoma screening test, it may help to understand the ideas behind cancer screening in general. Scientists have studied patterns of cancer in the population to learn which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They have also studied what things around us and what things we do in our lives may cause cancer. This information sometimes helps doctors recommend who should be screened for certain types of cancer, what types of screening tests people should have, and how often these tests should be done.
If your doctor suggests certain cancer screening tests as part of your child's health care plan, this does not mean he or she thinks your child has cancer. Screening tests are done when a person has no symptoms. Since decisions about screening can be difficult, you may want to discuss this with your doctor. Ask questions about the potential benefits and risks of screening tests and whether they have been proven to decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
If your doctor suspects that your child may have cancer, he or she will order certain tests. These are called diagnostic tests. Some tests are used for diagnostic purposes but are not suitable for screening people who have no symptoms.
(Click Diagnosing Retinoblastoma for information about diagnostic tests used to detect retinoblastoma.)
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