B-cell lymphoma is diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, bone marrow tests, lymph node tests and imaging tests. Each of these tests provides valuable information that helps in the accurate diagnosis of the disease.
- Complete blood count (CBC): This test measures the amount of different types of blood cells in a sample of your blood. Abnormal levels of white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets may suggest lymphoma.
- Blood chemistry tests: These tests measure the levels of various substances in the blood that indicate how well your organs are functioning. Abnormal levels may suggest lymphoma.
Bone Marrow Tests:
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: These two procedures are often done at the same time to examine the bone marrow. Bone marrow has both a solid and a liquid part. Aspiration removes a sample of the liquid with a needle, and a biopsy is when a small amount of the solid part is removed.
- Cytogenetic analysis: This test looks at the chromosomes inside cells from samples of blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. If abnormal chromosomes are found, it can help doctors identify certain types of lymphoma.
Lymph Node Tests:
- Lymph node biopsy: A lymph node is removed and the tissue is examined under the microscope. Pathologists look for the presence, type and arrangement of cancer cells that are typical of the disease.
- Immunophenotyping: This test identifies cells based on the types of antigens or markers on the surface of the cells. This test can help diagnose the specific type of lymphoma by determining whether an abnormal lymphocyte is a B cell or T cell and what subtype it is.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan: This scan creates detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures can show whether lymphoma is present and how far it has spread.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: In this test, a slightly radioactive sugar molecule is injected into the body, which lymphoma cells absorb because they are more active than normal cells. A scanner then detects this radioactivity. The PET scan can show whether lymphoma is present and how far it has spread.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body. MRI can be used to measure the tumor’s size.
A Summary of Diagnosing B-Cell Lymphoma
It's important to note that the diagnosis and classification of B-cell lymphoma is complex and requires a comprehensive evaluation by a team of specialists. A complete diagnosis requires a physical examination, looking at a bone marrow or lymph node sample under the microscope, immunophenotyping, cytogenetic analysis and often molecular genetic testing. The specific markers and genetic changes found in the samples can also help determine a person's prognosis and guide treatment decisions. If you don't currently have an B-cell lymphoma specialist on your team, it is important that you consult with one. Use HealthTree's B-Cell Lymphoma Specialist Directory to locate a specialist near you.