In all kinds of diseases and ailments knowing what you have exactly can mean life and death. Identifying, categorizing and understanding your current condition allow doctors to determine the proper and most effective means of making you better. Without proper diagnosis, the prescribed treatment can be useless and at times even prove to be deadly. In the case of lymphoma, one would encounter terms like biopsy, bone marrow examination, blood tests, spinal tap and scans which are some of the basic procedures employed by medical experts to determine or confirm the presence of lymphoma.
Usually, the very first thing that helps determine if one has lymphoma is self diagnosis. Those that observe enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin would more often than not trigger alarm bells in the their heads. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and the immune system. As the cancer cells develop, a tumor is formed usually in the lymph nodes which manifests as painless lumps. Upon consultation, your doctor will issue a battery of tests to confirm if it is lymphoma and if it is indeed cancer determine what stage it is at to know the possible course of treatment.
A biopsy is usually the first test that your doctors will employ to confirm the presence of cancer in your lymph nodes. In a biopsy, a small sample of tissue cells is taken from the lump either through a needle or via surgery. The cells are then examined by a pathologist to confirm lymphoma cells and the diagnoses. By studying the sample cells, the can also determine the basic kind of lymphoma the patient has, whether it’s Hodgkin or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But to determine the subtle details, doctors revert to the procedure called as immunohistochemistry which simply means looking for the unique properties of the tumor cell surface through the application markers such as fluorescent dye, enzyme, or colloidal gold to accurately classify the tumor.
You doctor would most likely require you to undergo several blood tests. The blood samples would be examined closely to see the state of your red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets. These tests would also help determine if the cancer has affected your body’s way of producing blood. The blood tests could also show the condition of your kidneys and liver. And more importantly, the information gathered from the tests could serve as basic foundations for the kind of treatments or drugs that could be used for your speedy recovery.
Doctors might also require you to undergo a bone marrow test wherein a sample of the bone marrow is taken from your hip using a thin needle. It is a common procedure used to test for various cancers and other blood diseases. A spinal tap or lumbar puncture can also be ordered by your doctor in specific circumstances. This checks the fluid in your spinal cord and determines if any cancer cells have invaded the spine. This procedure involves inserting a thin needle at the lower part of your back and I can be quite painful and uncomfortable.
CT scans will also help determine where the tumors are exactly since it takes pictures of your body from different angles. An MRI scan, on the hand, will help determine if the cancer cells have spread to your nervous system or other body organs.
How doctors tests for lymphoma involves logical procedures whose main goal is finding out what exactly the patient has in order to determine what kinds of treatments would be used.