Biopsy for lymphoma

A biopsy can be used to help diagnose lymphoma. It involves taking a sample of cells and testing them for cancer.

The most important test for diagnosing lymphoma is a biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue or a sample of cells, to be looked at under a microscope.

There are different types of biopsy. Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will explain the type of biopsy that is best for you. Sometimes, they use a scan or x-ray to help them take the biopsy from the exact area. This is called an image guided biopsy.

Most lymphomas involve the lymph nodes, so the most common place to take a biopsy from is an enlarged lymph node. You may have all or part of the lymph node removed.

You may have a biopsy done using a local anaesthetic to numb the area, or under a general anaesthetic while you are asleep.

For a few days after a biopsy you may feel sore and bruised around the area. Taking mild painkillers will help. The bruising will go away in a couple of weeks.

The tissue is examined under a microscope by a doctor called a pathologist. They look for lymphoma cells and do different tests on the cells. You may have to wait up to 2 weeks for the results of the biopsy. This is because diagnosing lymphoma is complicated and several tests need to be done.

Waiting for test results can be a difficult time, we have more information that can help.