Cancer Care Network

Lymphoma Testing Types

If your provider thinks you may have lymphoma, you will be asked about symptoms and also have a physical exam. Your provider will check your lymph nodes to see if they feel swollen. In addition, your provider may order a series of tests to diagnose lymphoma -- or to further evaluate lymphoma, after a diagnosis.

  • Blood Tests: Checks for abnormalities of cells in your blood.
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy: Samples the bone marrow for cancer cells.
  • Imaging tests: X-ray, CAT scan, MRI.
  • Lymph Node Biopsy: Samples lymph node tissue for cancer cells.
  • Molecular Test: Helps determine type of lymphoma.
  • PET: Special type of scan evaluates for cancer.

What is a lymph node biopsy?

A lymph node biopsy is removal of lymph node tissue so it can be examined under a microscope. Your lymph nodes are found throughout your body. They are part of your immune system. They are located in your neck, behind the ears, the armpits, chest, stomach and groin area.

If your lymph nodes are swollen, it often means you have an infection. Swollen lymph nodes due to an infection typically get better on their own as the infection gets better.  Many different types of infections can cause swollen lymph nodes such as strep throat, viral colds, mononucleosis, skin infections, and many others. Sometimes swollen lymph nodes are a sign of cancer.

Types of lymph node biopsies

  • Fine need aspiration: a thin needle is used to remove cell samples from the lymph node.

  • Core needle biopsy: a needle with a curved tip lets your doctor remove tissue sample the size of a grain of rice.

  • Open biopsy: your doctor removing a lymph node by making a small cut in the skin.

Steps to Care

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