Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Diagnosis and staging

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include:

  • Blood and urine tests.
  • X-rays of the chest – a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
  • Lymph node biopsy – a sample of tissue is removed from the lymph node and examined under a microscope.
  • Computed tomography scan of the abdomen, chest and pelvis (also called a CT or CAT scan) – a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • Lymphangiogram – dye is injected into lymphatic system to determine the extent of lymphatic involvement in areas that are otherwise difficult to visualize.
  • Bone marrow biopsy/aspiration – a procedure that involves a small amount of bone marrow fluid and tissue to be taken, usually from part of the hip bones, to further examine the number, size and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

Back to top

How is Hodgkin’s lymphoma staged?

Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. There are various staging systems that are used for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Always consult your child’s physician for information on staging. One method of staging Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the following:

  • Stage I – usually involves a single lymph node region or structure.
  • Stage II – involves two or more lymph node regions or structures on the same side of the body.
  • Stage III – involves lymph node regions or structures on both sides of the body and is further classified depending on the organs and areas involved.
  • Stage IV – involves the disease in other areas (metastasis), in addition to the lymphatic system involvement.

Stages also are noted by the presence or absence of symptoms of the disease:

  • Asymptomatic (A)
  • Symptomatic (B)

For example, stage IIIB is disease that is symptomatic, involves lymph node regions or structures on both sides of the body and is further classified depending on the organs and areas involved.