Tests and procedures used to diagnose Hodgkin’s lymphoma include physical examination, blood tests, imaging tests, bone marrow biopsy, and lymph node biopsy.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:
A physical exam
The healthcare provider may ask questions about the symptoms and perform a physical examination. This may include an examination of the swollen lymph nodes, including the neck, armpits and groin, and the swollen spleen or liver.
Blood samples are tested in a laboratory to understand the general health of the patient and signs of cancer. Blood tests measure the number of blood cells in a sample, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Low levels of white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets may indicate the presence of lymphoma in the bone marrow and / or blood. A blood ESR test helps to determine the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of the tube. The rate of “sedimentation” is a measure of how much inflammation there is in the body. Inflammation is the body’s attempt to heal itself. Some people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma may have a higher ESR than usual.
Imaging tests help to look for signs of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in other parts of the body. Examinations may include X-rays, CT and positron emission tomography (PET).
Lymph Node Biopsy
In a lymph node biopsy procedure the doctor removes the lymph nodes for a laboratory test for detecting signs of cancer.
Other laboratory tests will analyze lymphoma cells to find markers on the cell surface that can tell the healthcare team of the type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma the patient has and the best treatment for the cancer.
Bone Marrow Biopsy
Some patients diagnose with Hodgkin’s lymphoma may require bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. These tests are not normally used to diagnose HL, but can be used to test lymphoma cells in the bone marrow after diagnosis. The doctor will decide if these procedures are necessary. In addition, if a PET scan is used to assess the disease, a bone marrow biopsy may not be necessary. Bone marrow biopsy and aspiration procedures involve inserting a needle into the hip to remove a bone marrow sample. The sample is analyzed for Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells1,2.
- 1.Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease). Mayo Clinic. Published 2022. Accessed March 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hodgkins-lymphoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352650
- 2.DIAGNOSIS. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Published 2022. Accessed March 2022. https://www.lls.org/lymphoma/hodgkin-lymphoma/diagnosis