Diagnostic Tests for Lymphoma
Doctors need the results of different diagnostic tests to accurately determine whether or not a patient has lymphoma. These tests can also determine a patient’s specific lymphoma subtype. Second options or consultations with a lymphoma specialist can be helpful because an accurate diagnosis is crucial in developing the most appropriate treatment plan.
After the initial diagnosis of lymphoma, the doctor may order other tests such as blood tests, molecular genetics or biomarker tests, imagining studies, heart, and lung function tests, and, less frequently, additional biopsies. This process is often called the work-up. Some of these work-up studies are needed to see if and how much the disease has spread to other parts of the body. Doctors will use these test results to determine the stage of a patient’s disease. Other tests will check how the disease has affected a patient’s overall health and major organ functions. Together all of these tests will provide the information needed to help patients and their doctors decide on the course of treatment that will give patients the best chance of curing the disease or putting it into lasting remission.
Common tests to diagnose and monitor lymphoma include:
Tips on Diagnostic Reports
- Only a biopsy is definitive
- Tests can be reported as “normal” even though lymphoma may be present
- Tests may be reported as “abnormal” even though lymphoma is not present
- Other conditions may mimic lymphoma
- The interpretation of tests, such as imagining studies and scans, can be difficult in some situations and needs to be made in the context of the disease and the patient
- Often, follow-up tests are needed to determine the true significance of previous results; additional biopsies may be needed to clarify the results
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