Can Lymphoma Be Detected In A Blood Test?

Various diagnostic techniques are used for the diagnosis of lymphoma. The techniques used may be for initial diagnosis or to determine the effect of treatment. Blood tests are used as a preliminary method for diagnosis.

Can Lymphoma Be Detected In A Blood Test?

Can Lymphoma Be Detected In A Blood Test?

Although the blood tests provides an important clue about the presence of lymphoma, but the results of the blood test are very preliminary in nature and can be due to a variety of medical conditions. Thus, the result of the blood tests should be confirmed by using other diagnostic techniques. Following are the blood test used in the preliminary diagnosis of lymphoma:

  1. Complete Blood Count: As lymphoma involves the increases in number of lymphocytes, the complete cell count for lymphoma provides an important clue about the number of the cells present in the blood.
  2. Blood Chemistry: Blood chemistry involves the identification of various chemical components inside the blood. The approach is to find out those components which are likely to present in abnormal number during lymphoma such as proteins.
  3. Blood Smear: The blood smear test for lymphoma is used to determine the shape and size of the blood cells as well as their relative number.
  4. Flow Cytometry: Flow cytometry technique for lymphoma helps to identify whether the cancer cells are present or not. It helps in quantifying the expression of various proteins in the cancerous cells.
  5. Immunophenotyping: Immunophenotyping technique for lymphoma is used to identify the presence of certain type of antigens on the cancerous cells. It also distinguishes between the type of lymphoma present, thereby helping in deciding the course of treatment.
  6. Karyotype Test: Karyotype test technique for lymphoma is used to study the chromosomes and to analyze the changes in the chromosomes.

Diagnosis of Lymphoma

There are various methods for the diagnosis of lymphoma. Following are the methods:

Physical Examination: The Physician will try to get the detailed information about the symptoms. When the physician is convinced that the presented symptoms such as enlarged lymph node, fatigue, night sweats, weight loss and itchy skin can be correlated to lymphoma, he may refer the patient to an oncologist or may also advice some tests.

Biopsy: Biopsy is an important invasive technique to determine the presence of cancerous cells in the enlarged organ. A part of the tissue is taken from the affected organ and is examined for cancer. There are various types of biopsies. If whole lymph node is removed, then it is known as excisional biopsy and if only a small part of the affected organ is removed, it is called as incisional biopsy. The other type of biopsy for lymphoma is the needle biopsy in which the needle is used to withdraw the sample from the affected tissue. The disadvantage of needle biopsy is that the pathologist is not able to get the enough samples for examination.

Blood Test: The lymphoma may also be diagnosed with blood tests, but the results of the blood test are preliminary, and other diagnostic techniques are required to confirm the presence of lymphoma. Various blood tests that may help in getting the clue about the presence of lymphoma include complete cell count, blood smear, white cell differential, flow cytometry among others.

Imaging Techniques: These are one of the most powerful tools to diagnose the presence of lymphoma. These tools are non-invasive and provide almost accurate results. Presently, the imaging techniques are supported by highly sophisticated technologies. The imaging techniques used for diagnosing the lymphoma are X-ray, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission technology, bone scan and ultrasound. The imaging technique not only helps in diagnosing of the disease, rather they are also involved in determining the extent of the disease and the possible cause of lymphoma.


Lymphoma relates to the abnormal number of lymphocytes. The blood is the connective tissue that connects each and every organ. Thus, problem in any organ may change the composition of blood. Various blood tests are used to diagnose lymphoma. These includes complete cell count, blood smear, blood chemistry, immunophenotyping and karyotyping. It should be kept in mind that the diagnosis through blood test is just preliminary and not confirmatory.

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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 24, 2021

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