Retinoblastoma - Childhood: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Children with retinoblastoma often experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, children with retinoblastoma do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer. Sometimes, a doctor finds retinoblastoma during a well-baby examination. Most often, however, parents notice symptoms or signs such as:

  • A pupil that looks white, instead of the normal black

  • A crossed eye, which is an eye looking either toward the ear or toward the nose

  • Poor vision

  • A red, painful-looking eye

  • An enlarged pupil

  • Different-colored irises

If you are concerned about any changes you notice, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your child's doctor will ask how long and how often your child has been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your child’s cancer care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your child's health care team about the symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.