Hodgkin's Lymphoma

If Hodgkin's lymphoma is suspected, the doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam to check general signs of health. The exam includes feeling all the lymph nodes and feeling if the liver or spleen is enlarged. In addition, the doctor may order blood tests.

The doctor also may recommend tests that produce pictures of the inside of the body, such as:

  • X-Rays — High-energy radiation is used to take pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest, bones, liver and spleen.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan — A CT scan uses a thin X-Ray beam that rotates around the area being examined. A computer processes data to construct a three-dimensional, cross-sectional image.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — An MRI provides detailed pictures of areas inside the body that are produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.

The diagnosis also depends on a biopsy, during which a surgeon removes a sample of lymphatic tissue (part or all of a lymph node) so a pathologist can examine it under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Other tissues may be sampled as well. The pathologist studies the tissue and checks for Reed-Sternberg cells, which are large abnormal cells usually found with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.