Various diagnostic methods are used to identify Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). The preliminary diagnosis is done through physical examination i.e., the examination of symptoms and blood tests. The blood tests used for non-hodgkin’s lymphoma are complete cell count, flow cytometry, blood smear, blood chemistry, presence of lactate dehydrogenase, immunophenotyping, presence of viral infection and karyotyping. However, the blood tests should be combined with other diagnostic techniques for confirming the presence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Can A Blood Test Detect Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
The detailed analysis of blood provides vital information regarding the presence of cancer. Some tests provide the preliminary aspect while the other tests result in confirmatory diagnosis. Following are the blood tests used in non-hodgkin’s lymphoma:
- Complete Blood Count: In non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, the number of cells increases significantly above the normal level. So, through differential cell count, the physician may able to identify the existence of the disease. However, there are various reasons for the abnormal cell count, thus the results should be correlated with the symptoms and a confirmatory diagnosis should be done. Flow cytometry can also be done to determine abnormality in blood.
- Blood Chemistry: The cancerous cells grow rapidly and release various metabolites in the blood which may be identified through chemical testing. Further, in response to these cells, body also produces certain chemicals. The analysis of these chemicals gives a hint about the disease.
- Presence of Lactate Dehydrogenase: Presence of lactate dehydrogenase in the blood provides an important clue for the presence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Viral Tests: Many cancers are caused due to viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus. These can be detected through blood tests.
- Immunophenotyping: Presence of certain types of antigen in the blood may confirm the presence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Karyotyping: Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma is caused due to genetic mutation. The presence of genetic mutation confirms the presence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
The diagnosis of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma is the key in deciding the treatment strategy and helps in identifying the stage of the disease. On the basis of the staging, the prognosis of the disease is evaluated. If the diagnosis is done early then less complex will be the treatment with a little chance of relapse. The diagnosis is continuously improved by the incorporation of new technologies thereby getting results with high accuracy. Following are the diagnostic methods for examining the presence of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma:
Preliminary Examination: The patient initially goes to the family physician for taking consultation regarding the general symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, night sweats, loss of weight and fatigue. If the physician excludes all the reasons and narrow down the cause to non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, he may refer the patient to an oncologist. The will of the patient to consult the physician for his symptoms is an important factor for early diagnosis.
Blood Test: Various blood tests are available that identifies the presence of lymphoma. Some of then are preliminary and some are confirmatory. The blood test such as complete blood count and flow cytometry are preliminary test while the detailed examination of the cell such as morphological abnormality and analysis of the gene mutation provides the confirmation of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Biopsy: Biopsy provides accurate results about the presence of cancer. In biopsy, tissue is withdrawn from the affected organ and examined. There are various types of biopsy. If the complete tumor is removed for examination, it is known as excisional biopsy while incisional biopsy includes the removal of a part of tumor. Another method of biopsy is through needle. The sample of the tissue from the needle is withdrawn for further analysis.
Imaging Techniques: The imaging techniques are one of the most frequently used methods for cancer recognition. It does not only help in identifying cancer but also provide information regarding the extent of the disease and the effect of treatment. The imaging techniques used are X-Ray, Computed Tomography Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and Positron Emission Tomography.
Blood tests are the first test done to identify various diseases as the blood is the connective tissue connecting all the organs and any change in the metabolic behavior of the organ reflects in the blood.
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