Having tests for Hodgkin lymphoma
If you have the symptoms of lymphoma, remember that this may be for other reasons. It’s important to get them checked out, though, so go and see your GP if you’re worried. There are some tests you might be given by your GP or at the hospital. The tests will help the doctors see whether you have Hodgkin lymphoma.
Your GP will examine you and may arrange for tests such as blood tests. There may be a number of reasons why you're feeling unwell, so it can be difficult to diagnose the cause straight away. If they think you have Hodgkin lymphoma or they can't find the cause for your symptoms, they’ll refer you to a specialist at the hospital.
You may be referred straight to a doctor specialising in lymphomas, or you may see other specialist doctors first. You'll probably see a lot of doctors.
The hospital doctor will examine you and arrange for more tests. If your doctor suspects the lump may be a lymphoma or cancer, they may recommend a test called a biopsy. This is the main test to find out the cause of swollen lymph nodes. It involves taking a sample of tissue from the lump. The biopsy may involve a small operation to remove a whole lymph node (excision biopsy). Or you might have a smaller test where the doctor uses a hollow needle to take small samples from the swollen node (trucut biopsy).
Biopsies can be done with a local anaesthetic (where you’re awake but don’t feel anything), or a general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep). Your doctor will discuss this with you to agree the best way to do it.
The biopsy will tell your doctor what the lump is. If the biopsy shows you have Hodgkin lymphoma, the next step will be to find out where it is inside your body.
The tests to check for lymphoma in other parts of your body may include:
You might not have all of these tests. Your doctor will tell you which ones you need.
You will also have tests to check your general health. These might include:
This may seem like a lot of tests, but they’ll help your doctors decide the right treatments for you and how much treatment you will need.
Waiting for test results can be a scary time, but understanding a little about them - what will happen, how you'll feel and when you'll get the results - can help you cope. Thinking about how you feel and getting support from family, friends, or your specialist nurse or doctor can make it a bit easier. You could also talk to a cancer support specialist on our free helpline.
This information is about having tests for Hodgkin lymphoma. We also have information about:
If you’re looking for information about Hodgkin lymphoma in people of all ages, please see our general Hodgkin lymphoma section. This information is written for people of all ages, not just young adults.