Diagnosis of Lacrimal Gland Tumor

Executive Summary

Different tests are available to diagnose the development of a lacrimal gland tumor, depending on signs and symptoms, age and health status, types of tumor, and earlier medical tests. Physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsies are the diagnostic approaches for diagnosing the tumor. The most common diagnosis of lacrimal gland tumor includes various procedures such as physical examination, biopsy, imaging tests (Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT scan), bone scan, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan).

Diagnosis of Lacrimal Gland Tumor

Doctors use numerous techniques and tests to diagnose a lacrimal gland tumor. They may also conduct various tests and scans to look for tumor spread or metastasis signs. Imaging tests can play a vital role in determining whether the cancerous growth has metastasized to other body parts or not. Cancer diagnosis plays an essential role in deciding the best treatment plan for the tumor condition of each patient.

The doctor may also conduct a detailed physical examination of the suspected area to diagnose the tumor. But physical examinations may not guarantee accurate results. A biopsy is the most preferred way to detect any form of tumor or cancerous growth. In a biopsy, the doctor or physician will take a tiny tissue sample and send it to the lab for detailed analysis. However, a biopsy may not be possible in some circumstances. And so, in those cases, the doctor or the healthcare team may recommend other diagnostic tests or treatments ​1​.

The diagnosis of each person might be different. Before deciding on a diagnostic procedure, the doctor may examine the following factors:

  • The tumor type
  • Signs and symptoms associated with the illness.
  • Overall health condition and age of the patient
  • Past medical history and tests.

The following are diagnostic procedures to diagnose lacrimal gland tumors ​2​:

Physical Examination

The doctor will conduct a detailed examination of your body to check for unusual growth, lumps, or bumps. Physical examinations help your doctor get an initial understanding of your disease condition. The doctor will enquire about the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. You may also have to produce your past medical records for reference. The doctor may also prescribe more tests and scans to get a precise diagnosis as per the physical examination.


A biopsy is a procedure in which a tiny piece of tissue is examined closely under a microscope. Other procedures may indicate the presence of cancer, but only a biopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis. A pathologist examines the sample taken during the biopsy. A pathologist is a clinician who specializes in diagnosing disease by interpreting laboratory tests and assessing cells, tissues, and organs. The location of the tumor determines the sort of biopsy required.

A surgeon performs an incisional biopsy by cutting into the tumor growth and removing a tissue sample. The surgeon removes the entire tumor with an excisional biopsy. However, it is typically performed for mixed benign epithelial tumors. A tiny needle biopsy removes a small amount of tissue for inspection under a microscope by putting a needle straight into the tumor to collect cells. It is debatable if there is a need to use fine needle biopsy to diagnose a lacrimal gland tumor. For further information, consult your physician.

Computed Tomography (CT or CET) Scan

A CT scan uses an x-ray machine to generate a three-dimensional interior image of the body. A computer then combines the images into a complete cross-sectional view that reveals abnormalities or malignancies. A specific dye, the contrast medium dye helps in improving image detail. This dye can be delivered to the patient via their veins (intravenously) or in the form of a tablet or pill.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

in this procedure, Magnetic fields, are used to provide detailed images of the body. An MRI scan can also help measure the size of the tumor. A specific dye called a contrast medium helps to generate clear pictures. This dye can be administered in a pill or a tablet or injected into the patient’s vein (intravenously).

Bone Scan

In this scanning procedure, a radioactive tracer helps to view the bones during a bone scan. The radioactive substance is administered intravenously. A unique camera detects it as it gathers in sections of the bone. The camera shows healthy bone as grey, whereas regions of harm, such as those caused by a tumor appear dark.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan

A PET scan generates images of organs and tissues within the body. The patient is given a tiny amount of radioactive sugar material to inject into their body. The cells that use the most amount of energy absorb this radioactive material. Cancer absorbs more of the radioactive substance since it uses energy actively. The scanner detects the material, which produces images of the inside of the body.


  1. 1.
    Hajda M, Korányi K, Salomváry B, Bajcsay A. [Clinical presentation, differential diagnosis and treatment of lacrimal gland tumours]. Magy Onkol. 2005;49(1):65-70. doi:HUON.2005.49.1.0065
  2. 2.
    Stewart WB, Krohel GB, Wright JE. Lacrimal Gland and Fossa Lesions: An Approach to Diagnosis and Management. Ophthalmology. Published online May 1979:886-895. doi:10.1016/s0161-6420(79)35467-7