Exams and Tests
If non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is suspected, your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. This exam includes checking for enlarged lymph nodes in your neck, underarm, and groin.
A tissue sample (biopsy) is needed to make a diagnosis. A biopsy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually taken from a lymph node, but other tissues may be sampled as well.
A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy is usually done to find out if lymphoma cells are present in the bone marrow.
Your doctor may also order other tests, including:
Blood tests, such as a chemistry screen to measure the levels of several substances in the blood and a CBC (complete blood count) to provide information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood.
- A chest X-ray, to provide a picture of the inside of the chest.
- A CT scan or MRI, to provide detailed pictures of the inside of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
- A PET scan, to show areas of increased metabolic activity. Metabolic activity is often high in cancer cells.
- Lab tests, such as flow cytometry, that check the types of cells in a biopsy sample. These tests help your doctor find out the type of lymphoma.
Lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap), to find out whether lymphoma cells are in the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) surrounding your brain and spinal cord.