Taking a tissue sample (biopsy)

The most important test for diagnosing lymphoma is a biopsy. A doctor or nurse will take a sample of tissue from the affected area. They may use a scan such as an ultrasound or CT scan to guide them to the area. This is called image guided biopsy.

They send the tissue sample to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope and for further tests.

You may have to wait up to two 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.

Lymph node 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. This may be done using a local anaesthetic to numb the area, or under a general anaesthetic while you are asleep.

For a few days after any 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.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our lymphoma information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    Eichenauer DA, et al on behalf of the ESMO Guidelines Committee. Hodgkin's lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology. 2014. 25 (Supplement 3): iii70-iii75. Available at: www.annalsofoncology.org/action/showPdf?pii=S0923-7534%2819%2934081-5

     

    Ladetto M et al. ESMO consensus conference on malignant lymphoma: general perspectives and recommendations for prognostic tools in mature B-cell lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Annals of Oncology. 2016. 27: 12, 2149-2160. Available at: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0923753419365421

     

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG47. Haematological cancers: improving outcomes. 2016. Available at: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng47

     

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG52. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: diagnosis and management. 2016. Available at: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng52

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editors, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist; and Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

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