Physical Exam and History
A physical examination of the body is peformed to check for any noticeable
signs of the disease like weight loss, fever, lumps or inflamed lymph
nodes around the neck or underarm area. The examination will be continued
with an in-depth anamnesis of the medical history about past illnesses
and a complex investigation on any other symptom that the patient experienced
and cannot be seen by the physical exam.
The next step in order to make a correct diagnosis is blood tests.
Hodgkins lymphoma cells do not appear in blood, but there
are other indicators of this disease that can be detected through
blood analysis like levels of anemia or high blood pressure.
A blood test is a procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn
and essential components are checked such as: the number of red
blood cells, the number of white cells, the amount of hemoglobin
in the red blood cells, the portion of the sample made up of red
blood cells, sedimentation rate (a procedure in which the blood
sample is checked in order to establish the rate at which red
blood cells settle to the bottom of the test tube) and the amount
of certain essential substances released into the blood by organs
and tissues in the body.
Chest X-Ray and Computer Tomography (CT)
If the inflammated lymph nodes are in the chest area, they can be seen
in a plain chest x-ray. In most cases, an X-Ray image is followed by
a CT scan in order to obtain a better image of the tumor. The CT scan
is an advanced x-ray procedure that produces a more detailed cross-sectional
image of the body. The CT scan procedure involves two phases: in the
first phase a first set of pictures will be taken and in the second
phase the patient will receive an intravenous injection (IV) of a radiocontrast
agent in order to better outline the structure of the body and a second
set of pictures will be taken. The two sets of pictures are then compared
against each other.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This technique is not commonly used as a method to diagnose Hodgkins
lymphoma. However, it might be employed if there is some concern if
the spinal cord or brain is being affected. This procedure uses strong
magnets that cause the release of energy when turned on and off. This
energy is then translated by a special computer into a detailed pictures
of different body parts.
This procedure involves the administration of Gallium-67, a radioactive
substance that is injected intravenously into the body. This substance
is left for a couple of hours to be absorbed into the Hodgkins
disease affected areas and then the patient will be placed under a special
scanner that will record the absorbed radioactivity on a special film.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
This procedure is a new type of radioactive scan. A special glucose
substance that contains a radioactive atom is being administrated to
the patient and a special camera will detect radioactivity. Hodgkins
disease cells have a high rate of metabolism and makes them absorb a
high amount of radioactive sugar. This procedure is effectively used
in detecting Hodgkins lymphoma. It is used after the treatment
for a better visualization of the left tumors or scar tissues.
Bone Marrow Biopsy and Aspiration
A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure where a small amount of bone is
removed. This procedure is used to detect if the Hodgkins disease
has spread to the bone marrow.
Similar with the biopsy is the aspiration procedure which allows a
small amount of bone marrow to be removed.
These two tests are used to settle cancer staging and are recommended
if the person that suffers from Hodgkins disease displays anemia,
fever or night sweats - signs that the cancer is affecting the bone
marrow. In order to determine cancer staging biopsy can be performed
not just for bone tissue, but by removing the whole lymph. This type
of biopsy is easy to perform if swelling nodes are present around the
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