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Diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying particular attention to your lymph nodes. Most enlarged or swollen lymph nodes result from infection, not lymphomas . If infection is suspected, you may be given medication and told to return for a follow up appointment.

Lymph Node Biopsy

If swelling persists, your doctor may order a lymph node biopsy . For this test, all or part of a lymph node will be removed. The tissue sample will be examined under a microscope. The biopsy results will show whether there is cancer. It will also show the type of the cancer that is present.

Lymphoma may be:

  • Aggressive or highly aggressive (high grade)—grows quickly and causes serious symptoms
  • Indolent (low grade)—grows more slowly and produces few symptoms

In addition to microscopic examination of the lymphoma, other studies may be done, such as:

Staging

If cancer is found, treatment will depend on the stage of your cancer. The doctor will order additional tests to determine the stage of the cancer. Staging is a careful attempt to determine whether the cancer has spread and, if it has, what body parts are affected.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

Your bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

The following stages are used to classify non-Hodgkins lymphoma:

  • Stage I—cancer involves a single lymph node region. Or, if the cancer started in an organ, it is limited to that organ.
  • Stage II—cancer has spread to two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm. Or, if the cancer started in an organ, it has spread to one or more lymph node groups on the same side of the diaphragm.
  • Stage III—cancer has spread to two or more lymph node regions on both sides of the diaphragm.
  • Stage IV—cancer has spread to other parts of the body in addition to lymph nodes.

Revision Information

  • Casciato D. Manual of Clinical Oncology . 6th ed. Lippincott Williams & Williams; 2009

  • Lymphoma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/diseaseinformation/lymphoma . Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/non-hodgkin . Accessed April 30, 2013.

  • What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkinlymphoma/detailedguide/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-what-is-non-hodgkin-lymphoma?sitearea=CRI . Updated March 27, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.