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Tests You May Need Once You Know You Have Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Once you know you have lymphoma, your doctor will likely do more tests. Most people need more than one. Don’t worry if these tests take a while to complete. In most cases, it’s OK to take some time to get these results before treatment. And you’ll have some time to discuss all of this with your family and health care team. However, if your lymphoma is a type that grows fast, you will need to start treatment more quickly.

Your doctor will choose tests to help do these things:

  • Confirm the type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma you have

  • See if the lymphoma has spread to other parts of your body

  • Tell what type of treatment will likely work best for you

  • Tell what your chances of recovery are

Tests to find the type of lymphoma

Your doctor may be able to use the same samples of fluid or tissue taken during your biopsy for other tests. One piece of information your doctor is looking for is any changes in chromosomes, which are the blueprints of your cells. These changes help your doctor know the specific type of lymphoma you have and how rapidly it is growing.

These are examples of tests that your doctor may recommend being done on fluid or tissue that has been removed during a biopsy:

  • Cytogenetic analysis

  • Flow cytometry

  • Immunohistochemistry

  • Molecular genetic tests

Tests that help show how much the cancer has spread

Other tests can help spot whether the lymphoma has spread to other parts of your body. For example, a lumbar puncture collects fluid from your spinal column to check for lymphoma cells. You may have blood tests, too.

Imaging tests use scanning machines to see inside your body. Here are examples of ones you might have:

  • Chest X-ray

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan

  • Gallium scan

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

  • Ultrasound


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