Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis

If you have swollen lymph nodes or another symptom that suggests non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your doctor will try to find out what’s causing the problem. Your doctor may ask about your personal and family medical history.

You may have some of the following exams and tests:

Physical exam: To check for swollen lymph nodes in your neck, underarms and groin. Your doctor also checks for a swollen spleen or liver.

Blood tests: To do a complete blood count to check the number of white blood cells and other cells and substances.

Chest X-rays: To take X-ray pictures to see if there are swollen lymph nodes or other signs of disease in your chest.

Biopsy: To check the tissue for lymphoma cells. Your doctor may remove an entire lymph node (excisional biopsy) or only part of a lymph node (incisional biopsy). A thin needle (fine needle aspiration) usually cannot remove a large enough sample for the pathologist to diagnose lymphoma. Removing an entire lymph node is best. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose lymphoma.