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Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosis

Successful treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends upon accurate and precise diagnosis. However, the disease may be challenging to diagnose. It is important for a specialist familiar with Hodgkin’s lymphoma to analyze your biopsy.

While most cancer centers see only a few cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year, our internationally known program focuses only on the disease. Our pathologists have some of the highest levels of expertise in Hodgkin’s lymphoma you’ll find anywhere. They use the latest technology and techniques to pinpoint disease.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Diagnostic Tests

If you have symptoms that may signal Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health, your lifestyle and family medical history.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These tests also may help find out if your treatment is working.

  • Lymph node biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed from a lymph node and looked at under a microscope. Sometimes the entire node is removed.
  • Imaging tests, which may include:
    • X-Rays
    • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
    • PET (positron emission tomography) scans
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • Blood tests
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Echocardiogram
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: A thin needle is inserted into the hip or other large bone, and a small sample of cells from tissue inside the bone is collected. The cells are then looked with a microscope.
  • Immunophenotyping: Cells from a lymph node, blood or bone marrow are examined with a microscope to determine the type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells
  • Pulmonary function test: Determines how well the lungs are working

If you have been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Innovative Hodgkin's lymphoma treatments, including proton therapy, monoclonal antibodies, biological and targeted therapies, stem cell transplants
  • Latest, most-advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma therapies with highest success rate and least damage to healthy tissue
  • Accurate, precise diagnosis by specialized pathologists
  • One of world’s largest Hodgkin’s lymphoma referral centers
  • Clinical trials for newly diagnosed and relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Hodgkins Lymphoma Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

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Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Staging

If you are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way of classifying cancer by how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This helps the doctor plan the best way to treat the cancer. Once the staging classification is determined, it stays the same even if treatment is successful or the cancer spreads.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stages

(source: National Cancer Institute)

Stage I (early stage): Cancer is found in one lymph node region.

Stage II (locally advanced disease): Cancer is found in:

  • Two or more lymph regions on one side of the diaphragm or
  • One lymph node region plus a nearby area or organ. This is called "extension," or "E" disease

Stage III (advanced disease): Cancer is found in:

  • Lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm or
  • One node area and one organ on opposite sides of the diaphragm ("E" disease)

Stage IV (widespread disease): The lymphoma is outside the lymph nodes and spleen and has spread to one or more areas such as bone, bone marrow, skin or organs.

Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson

The pathologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for all types of the disease.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center