Early diagnosis is the most important step, and is crucial to identify the stage of cancer, and decide the appropriate treatment option. This HealthHearty article shares some information with respect to the diagnosis of lymphoma, a type of cancer that arises from the lymphoid cells of the body.
Lymphoma refers to a group of cancers that affect the lymphoid cells of the body, resulting in the formation of tumors in the lymph nodes and spleen.
The exact cause of lymphoma is not known. However, it is generally seen in people with a weak immune system. Lymphomas are classified as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is less common and aggressive, as compared to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which accounts for about 90% of all the lymphoma cases. The common signs and symptoms of lymphoma include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest, abdomen, and groin
- Recurring fever
- Night sweats
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
How is Lymphoma Diagnosed?
Lymphoma can be diagnosed through one or more of the following tests.
The doctor will first carry out a complete physical examination to be sure that the symptoms are not caused by minor infections. Inflammation of lymph nodes can occur due to bacterial, fungal and viral infections. This condition can be ruled out through a physical examination.
A blood test does not help to confirm the presence of lymphoma, but helps to assess the changes in number of blood cells. When the count of lymphocytes is unusually high, or the test results show high levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), it prompts the doctor to carry out further diagnostic tests to check for blood cancer.
Imaging techniques are advised to detect the presence unusual growth within the body. These include X-rays, CT Scan, MRI, PET Scan, etc.
The most important test for diagnosis is biopsy, which is a medical procedure to obtain tissues or cell for examination. Such an examination helps to confirm the presence of cancerous cells. This is a kind of surgical procedure, and the doctor can perform different types of biopsy procedures to determine presence or absence of lymphoma. These include:
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA)
- Large needle or core biopsy
- Surgical biopsy (includes incision and excision procedures)
Determining the Type of Lymphoma
After the confirming the presence of lymphoma through biopsy, the doctor will determine the type of lymphoma. This is done by a simple microscopic examination of the cells. Special markers may be used to identify the cancerous cells, and type the lymphoma as Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bone Marrow Testing
Once the type of lymphoma is identified, the doctor will perform a bone marrow biopsy. This is to determine if the cancer has spread to the bone marrow. Aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is commonly seen affecting the bone marrow.
Treatment is decided on the basis of number of factors including the stage of lymphoma, as well as the age, general health, and medical history of the patient. The treatment includes:
- Radiation therapy
- Stem cell transplant
If you suspect any unusual signs, speak to your doctor. Only an experienced medical practitioner will be able to diagnose your condition accurately. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is extremely essential to control the progression of cancer.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.