Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

How is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed?

How is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed?

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

  • Blood and urine tests.
  • X-rays of the chest – use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
  • 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.
  • Lymph node biopsy – a sample of tissue is removed from the lymph node and examined under a microscope.
  • Lymphangiogram – an imaging study that can detect cancer cells or abnormalities in the lymphatic system and structures. It involves a dye being injected into the lymph system.
  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy – a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.
  • Lumbar puncture – to evaluate central nervous system for cancer cells. A special needle is placed into the lower back into the spinal canal (the area around the spinal cord). A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid can be removed and sent for testing. Cerebral spinal fluid is the fluid which bathes the brain and spinal cord.

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How is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma staged?

Staging and classification of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is based on the extent of the disease and the specific cells involved.Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. There are various staging symptoms that are used for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Always consult your child’s physician for information on staging. One method of staging non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the following:

  • Stage I – involves the tumor at one site, either nodal or elsewhere in the body.
  • Stage II – involves the tumor at two or more sites on the same side of the body.
  • Stage III – involves tumors in any number that occur on both sides of the body, but does not involve bone marrow or the central nervous system.
  • Stage IV – any stage of tumor that also has bone marrow and/or central nervous system involvement. Stage IV also is subdivided depending on the amount of blasts (cancer cells) present in the bone marrow.