Can Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Be Detected In Blood Tests?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. It is a blood cancer. It is seen to be affecting mostly the B cells in the lymphocytes.

Can Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Be Detected In Blood Tests?

Well, it is not possible to detect Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the blood tests. But, the blood tests can help detect how far the cancer has advanced and give a rough idea about the stage of the cancer.

The CBC (complete blood count) can give an idea about the levels of different types of cells in the blood. If the lymphoma progresses to the bone marrow, then the person might be suffering from anemia. Bone marrow is the place where new RBCs are made. If the cancer invades the bone marrow, the RBCs cannot be made; and it results in anemia. A high WBC level may also suggest Hodgkin’s lymphoma; however, it may be associated with infections too.

Another test called ESR is an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test. It determines. The level of inflammation in the body. It may be on a higher side in persons affected by Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Blood tests can also be done to determine the functioning of liver and kidneys, which may give an idea about the spread of Hodgkin’s lymphoma to these organs. Some other blood tests like those for HIV and Hepatitis B and C may also be advised.

The diagnostic tests carried out to confirm the presence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma-

A detailed medical and physical history of the person suspected would be taken. If the physician suspects the presence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, then most probably first of all he would advise for the biopsy of the swollen lymph nodes. However, swollen lymph nodes may also be a result of some other reason like an infection and hence, before sending for a biopsy, the physician would most likely wait for a few days or weeks to see if the lymph nodes shrink as the infection recedes; or physician may even give some antibiotics to see if the lymph nodes go away. If not, then the biopsy will be advised.

A biopsy is the only way to get a confirm diagnosis of the Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A biopsy can also determine what type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma it is.

Biopsies are of different types. According to the condition, the doctors will decide which one to go for.

Excisional or Incisional Biopsy–in excisional biopsy, the complete lymph node is removed; and in an incisional biopsy, a part of the lymph node is removed for diagnosis.

Needle Biopsy– in a needle biopsy- it is also of two types-fine needle aspiration biopsies, wherein a thin needle is used to take out some fluid and tissue from the lymph node. And the other one is core needle biopsy, wherein a larger needle is used to take out a larger piece of tissue.

Imaging tests such as X-rays, USGs, MRIs, CT scans and PET scans are used in the diagnosis of the Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These tests give a confirmed diagnosis of the Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bone scan is a rarely done test for the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but if needed can be done. Which of these tests have to be used is decided according to the condition of the person, the symptoms and the suspicions of the doctor as to the location of the cancer. Some tests image a particular area better than the other tests, like MRI is more useful if the spinal cord or brain is concerned. According to the need, the tests will be advised.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma cannot be diagnosed by blood tests. However, blood tests can give an idea as to the extent of spread of the disease in later stages. The main diagnostic tests for Hodgkin’s lymphoma are the H-rays, USG, MRI, CT scan and PET scan. Blood tests can be supportive.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 26, 2021

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