Further tests after diagnosis

If your biopsy shows that you have Hodgkin lymphoma, you’ll be referred for further tests. These help your doctors find out the stage of the lymphoma – whether it has spread beyond its starting point.

Knowing the stage of lymphoma lets your doctor plan the most effective treatment for you.

Further tests may include:

  • Blood tests – these show the level of red cells, white cells and platelets in your blood.
  • Chest X-rays – to check your lungs and heart.
  • CT scans – a series of X-rays give a three-dimensional picture of the inside of your body.
  • PET/CT scans – a combined CT and PET scan.
  • MRI scans – a powerful magnetic scanner builds up a detailed picture of your body.
  • Bone marrow samples – a piece of bone marrow is taken from the back of your hip-bone and examined under a microscope.

Waiting for test results can be a difficult time. It may help to talk to your family, friends or specialist nurse.

Further tests for Hodgkin lymphoma

If the biopsy shows that you have Hodgkin lymphoma, your specialist will arrange further tests to see if the lymphoma is in other parts of the body. These tests help the doctors find out the stage of lymphoma.

Knowing the stage of the lymphoma will help them plan the most effective treatment for you. The tests may include any of the following:


Blood test

You’ll have blood tests to check your general health, the levels of red cells, white cells and platelets in your blood, and how well your liver and kidneys are working. You will have regular blood tests during your treatment.


Chest X-ray

This uses X-rays to take a picture of your chest, to check your lungs and heart.


CT scan

A CT (computerised tomography) scan uses x-rays to build a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. You may be given either a drink or injection of dye. This is to make certain areas of the body show up more clearly. This scan takes around 30 minutes and is painless. We have more detailed information about having a CT scan.


PET/CT scan

This is a combination of a CT scan, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. A PET scan uses low-dose radiation to measure the activity of cells in different parts of the body.

PET/CT scans give more detailed information about the part of the body being scanned. You may have to travel to a specialist centre to have one. You can't eat for six hours before the scan, although you may be able to drink.

A mildly radioactive substance is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The radiation dose used is very small. The scan is done after at least an hour’s wait. It usually takes 30–90 minutes. You should be able to go home after the scan.

We have more information about the PET/CT scan.


MRI scan

This scan uses magnetism to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body. You may be given an injection of dye, into a vein, to improve the images from the scan. This test is painless and will take around 30 minutes. We have more detailed information about having an MRI scan.


Bone marrow test

The bone marrow is the spongy part in the middle of our bones where all our blood cells are made. A small sample of bone marrow is taken from the back of the hip bone (pelvis) or occasionally the breast bone (sternum). This is sent to a laboratory where it is looked at under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal cells. We have more detailed information about having a bone marrow test.


Waiting for test results

Waiting for test results can be a difficult time. It may take from a few days to a couple of weeks for the results of your tests to be ready. You may find it helpful to talk with your partner, family or a close friend. Your specialist nurse or one of the organisations listed on our database, can also provide support. You can also talk things over with one of our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.


Back to Tests and scans

Being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma

If your GP suspects you have Hodgkin lymphoma, you’ll be referred to hospital. A definite diagnosis is made by performing a biopsy.