How to Diagnose Lymphoma

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Diagnose Lymphoma

A lymphoma is any tumor of lymphoid tissue. They are classified into two types: non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin's disease. The term "lymphoma" usually refers to a non-Hodgkin lymphoma in common use because Hodgkin's disease has its own name. There are several classification methods for NHL, but clinical oncologists usually group lymphomas according to their expected behavior. The following steps will show how to diagnose NHL.


    • 1

      Identify low-grade NHLs as causing swollen lymph nodes in the extremities. The liver is frequently swollen, as is the spleen in 40 percent of cases.

    • 2

      Recognize intermediate and high-grade NHLs by their rapid and profound effect on the lymphatic system. The spleen and liver are usually swollen in these cases.

    • 3

      Look for symptoms of specific types of high-grade NHLs. A large abdominal mass is usually present in Burkitt lymphoma. A testicular mass or large mediastinal mass also may be present for B-cell lymphoma or lymphoblastic lymphoma. Some lymphomas such as anaplastic lymphoma, angioimmunoblastic lymphoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma produce skin lesions.

    • 4

      Obtain a biopsy by excising a lymph node. The diagnosis is heavily dependent upon an examination of the nodal architecture and accompanying infiltrates of the lymphoid cells.

    • 5

      Stain the sample with hematoxylin and eosin. The sample can then be analyzed histologically. NHL produces a wide variety of morphology depending on the specific form of the disease. NHL may be distinguished from reactive follicular hyperplasia because NHL usually changes the lymph node architecture and capsule.

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