Various scans may be performed to help diagnosis, and also determine the 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 following tests may be used for lymphoma:
Bone Scan: is a Radionuclide Scan which can show whether cancer has spread to the bones. A small amount of radioactive (and totally safe) substance is injected into a vein, and then travels through the bloodstream and collects in areas of abnormal bone growth. A scanner measures the radioactivity levels in these areas and records them on x-ray film.
Computed Tomography Scan (CAT or CT scan): A CAT scan is performed by a computer linked to an x-ray machine which takes a series of pictures of the areas of interest inside the body from a variety of angles. The pictures are then combined using a computer to give a detailed image of the area. CAT scans are capable of detecting extremely small tumours and enable the doctor to determine if the tumour has spread to the lymph nodes surrounding the lungs.
Gallium (Radioisotope) Scan: Radioactive gallium is a chemical that collects in some types of tumors. This scan is performed by injecting a small and harmless amount of radioactive gallium into the body. After a period of time, the body is then scanned from several different angles to see whether the gallium has collected in any tumor(s). If any tissues collect the radioactive gallium, then this confirms the presence f one or more tumors. This scan is often repeated after treatment is completed to help determine how successful the treatment has been. For example, is the tumor still the same, or has it shrunk, become inactive, or completely disappeared. Gallium scans are sometimes used when a patient is suspected to have lymphoma.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI scan is performed by a computer linked to a powerful magnet, and utilising and radio frequency waves, to create clear images of the internal structures of the body, including the muscles, nerves, brain, spinal cord, and bones. The images produced show the presence of tumours. An MRI can provide important and highly useful information about tissues and organs, particularly the nervous system, that is not available by using other imaging techniques.
Mediastinoscopy: A Mediastinoscopy can help show whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the chest. A lighted viewing instrument, called a scope, is inserted through a small incision in the neck, allowing a doctor to examine the chest (mediastinum) and the nearby lymph nodes and collect and retrieve a small samples of tissue. To ease the pain / discomfort, general anaesthetic is given to the patient.
Mediastinotomy: same as Mediastinoscopy (above), but the scope is inserted through a incision is made in the chest rather than the neck.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: PET Scans are used to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Before receiving a PET scan your physician will administer an radioactive tracer substance, which is a special type of sugar. Cells use sugar for energy to function, and produce heat as they burn the sugar. Cancer cells tend to be more active, so they use more sugar and produce greater heat than normal cells. PET Scans identify hot spots throughout the body, enabling the doctor to determine the location of any cancer. A positron camera is used to detect the radioactivity and produce cross-sectional images of the body. Like Gallium Scans, PET Scans are very useful in determining response to treatment. For example, is the tumour still the same, or has it shrunk, become inactive, or completely disappeared.
Radionuclide Scanning: For this scan, the patient swallows or receives an injection of a mildly radioactive (and totally safe) substance, and then a short time later, a scanner measures and records the level of radioactivity in certain organs. This can reveal abnormal areas inside the body because cancerous tissue and normal healthy tissue absorb the radioactive material at different rates. This scanning can show whether cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver.
X-Rays: use specially focused and aimed bursts of radiation to take pictures of areas inside the body. The amount of radiation used in most X-Rays and other diagnostic tests are so small that it poses little risk to the patient under normal usage levels.