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Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is diagnosed through a combination of blood tests, bone marrow tests, lymph node biopsy tests and imaging tests. These tests help to identify the presence of abnormal T-cells and other signs of lymphoma.

Blood Tests:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): This test measures the amount of different types of blood cells in a sample of your blood. In AITL, there may be an increase in the number of white blood cells, and a decrease in the number of red blood cells or platelets.
  • Peripheral blood smear: In this test, a sample of your blood is examined under a microscope to check for abnormal cells. AITL can cause changes in the appearance of white blood cells.

Bone Marrow Tests:

  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: These tests involve taking a small sample of bone marrow, usually from your hip bone, and examining it under a microscope. The sample can show whether lymphoma cells have spread to your bone marrow.
  • Cytogenetic analysis: This test looks at the chromosomes of cells from a sample of your bone marrow. It can identify any genetic changes that are characteristic of AITL.

Lymph Node Tests:

  • Lymph node biopsy: A lymph node biopsy is a key diagnostic procedure used to confirm the presence of AITL. This biopsy allows healthcare professionals to obtain a tissue sample from an enlarged lymph node and examine it under a microscope to identify the characteristics of AITL. 
  • Immunophenotyping/flow cytometry: The sample obtained for a flow cytometry test used in diagnosing AITL typically comes from a lymph node biopsy. These tests are used to identify the type of lymphoma cells present. In AITL, the abnormal T-cells often express certain proteins on their surface that can be detected with these tests.

Imaging Tests:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan: This test uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. It can show enlarged lymph nodes or other signs of lymphoma.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: This test uses a small amount of radioactive glucose to find cancer cells in the body. Because cancer cells use glucose more quickly than normal cells, they will appear brighter on the scan.

A Summary of Diagnosing Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma

Diagnosing AITL involves a combination of blood tests, bone marrow tests, and imaging tests. These tests help to identify abnormal T-cells, check for the spread of lymphoma cells, and detect any characteristic genetic changes. The diagnosis of AITL can be challenging due to its rarity and the complexity of its symptoms, but these tests provide valuable information that can help to confirm the diagnosis and guide treatment decisions.

If you don't currently have an AITL specialist on your team, it is important that you consult with one. Use HealthTree's AITL Specialist Directory to locate a specialist near you. 

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