Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

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:

  • Additional blood tests and other evaluation procedures.
  • X-rays of the chest, bones, liver and spleen – a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film. 
  • Lymph node biopsy – a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. 
  • 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. 
  • Computed tomography scan (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. 
  • Ultrasound (also called sonography) – a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function and to assess blood flow through various vessels.