The diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma (HL) usually depends on people having abnormal cells, called Reed-Sternberg (R-S) cells, in their blood. Other types of abnormal cell types may be present as well.
However, the presence of R-S cells alone does not necessarily mean that an individual definitely has Hodgkins Lymphoma.
To confirm a diagnosis, the lymphatic tissue that contains Reed-Sternberg cells must also be surrounded by a background of other cells and features that are characteristic of Hodgkins Lymphoma. A pathologist may use immunological tests that look for cell surface markers (antigens) that identify specific cell types in order to help confirm or otherwise a diagnosis for Hodgkins Lymphoma.
HL has been studied more than any other type of Lymphoma. With the many rapid advances in diagnosis and treatment, over 80% of patients with HL can be cured.
A number of different tests and examinations are usually required to confirm a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and, if the diagnosis is confirmed, assess how far the disease has spread through your body and determine how well your body systems are working. Depending on your situation, the physician may use some or all of these tests to determine the best way to treat your disease.
Various tests and scans may be performed to help diagnosis, and also determine a patient’s response to treatment. For example, is the tumor still the same, or has it shrunk, become inactive, or completely disappeared.
One or more of the tests and examinations may be performed:
- Examine patients medical history
- Physical examination
- lymphoma scans, including MRI and CAT scans
- Laboratory tests, including blood tests, bone marrow tests and so on, and/or, Molecular Diagnostic Tests.
The results of these tests are analyzed to allow the doctor to confirm, or otherwise, the presence of the disease, determine the extent of disease, and recommend or evaluate treatments to determine which have the best chance of either producing a remission or cure.