Having tests for lymphoma

Most of the symptoms caused by lymphoma can also be caused by other illnesses. But it’s still important to get them checked. If you have any symptoms or are worried about lymphoma, talk to your GP.

Visiting your GP

Your GP will examine you. They may arrange for you to have blood tests or scans. They will refer you to a specialist doctor at the hospital if:

  • they think you might have lymphoma
  • they don’t know what is causing your symptoms.

At the hospital

The specialist doctor will examine you again and arrange more tests. The most important test for lymphoma is a biopsy. This involves a doctor or nurse taking a sample of tissue from a lump or abnormal area that might be lymphoma. They may use a scan such as an ultrasound or CT scan to guide them to the right area. Then they send the tissue sample to a laboratory to be checked.

Most lymphomas affect the lymph nodes, so the most common place to take a biopsy from is a swollen lymph node. You may have all or part of the lymph node removed. This might be done:

  • using a local anaesthetic to numb the area
  • under a general anaesthetic, while you are asleep.

You may have to wait up to two weeks for the results of a biopsy. If the biopsy shows signs of lymphoma, you will have more tests to find out which areas of your body are affected.

An image of Dr Marcus, a lymphoma specialist.

Diagnosing lymphoma

In this cancer information video, Dr Robert Marcus explains what lymphoma is and how it is diagnosed. Linda, who had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, talks about how she felt when she was told of her diagnosis.

About our cancer information videos

Diagnosing lymphoma

In this cancer information video, Dr Robert Marcus explains what lymphoma is and how it is diagnosed. Linda, who had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, talks about how she felt when she was told of her diagnosis.

About our cancer information videos

Having more tests

Your doctor will explain which tests you need. They might include: 

You may also have other tests, such as blood tests or x-rays. These are to check your general health and how your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys are working. 

All these tests help your doctors plan the right treatments for you.

Waiting for test results

Waiting for test results can be a worrying time. It can help to talk to your family and friends about how you feel. You can also contact your doctor or team at the hospital if you have any problems, or need more support. Or you can call our cancer support specialists.


We also have information about lymphoma in people of all ages.

Back to Lymphoma