Being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma

Usually you begin by seeing your GP, who will examine you and arrange for you to have any tests or x-rays. They will also refer you to hospital to see a specialist.

At the hospital the doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. They’ll ask you about any health problems or recent illnesses you’ve had. You may have a blood test and a chest x-ray to check your general health.

Lymph node biopsy

This is when the doctor removes a small piece of tissue or cells from the affected area. As many lymphomas begin in the lymph nodes, the most common place to take a biopsy from is an enlarged lymph node. Once the sample has been taken, a pathologist (a doctor who specialises in analysing cells) examines it under a microscope.

The biopsy usually involves a small operation to remove all or part of the lymph node. You may have this done under a local anaesthetic while you are awake (the area is numbed first) or under a general anaesthetic.

For a few days after the 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.

It may take a week or so to get the results of the biopsy back. This is because several tests need to be done in order to be sure if the lump is lymphoma or not. If it is lymphoma, the biopsy results will show what type it is.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Close-up of Kate looking thoughtful whilst sailing. Kate on diagnosis

'In a way, when you're the patient, it’s easy. You don’t have time to be scared.'

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.

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Further tests after diagnosis

Further tests can tell your specialist the stage of your lymphoma. This helps them plan the most effective treatment.