What does it mean to get a lymphoma diagnosis? What are the symptoms of this disease and how do you know when to go see a doctor? Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. When the body’s cells begin behaving abnormally, that is classified as cancer. When the abnormal cells are in the lymph system, or the part of the body that carries white blood cells, then it is labeled lymphoma.

Below is more information to help individuals understand lymphoma.

What are the Symptoms of Lymphoma?

A very common symptom of lymphoma is lymph nodes swelling (which can be in the neck, armpits or groin). It is common to feel this change while changing or bathing. However, it is important to realize that swollen lymph nodes do not always mean lymphoma! They will swell when your body is fighting an infection as well.

In addition to swollen lymph nodes, there are other symptoms of lymphoma that are more general. An individual might experience fever, rapid weight loss, night sweats, unexplained itchiness and loss of appetite. It is a good idea to see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

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What Tests Will a Doctor Do?

If you go into the doctor and complain of enlarged lymph nodes (Swollen Lymph Nodes), the first thing they will probably do is provide you with antibiotics. Antibiotics will fight any infection that might be in your body, and if you are suffering from an illness that isn’t lymphoma, the enlarged lymph nodes will shrink.

After antibiotics if the swelling persists, a doctor will then do a biopsy. A biopsy is where a doctor takes a small sample of the affected tissue and sends the sample to a lab for testing. A biopsy will provide the doctor will definite results.

What Happens After a Diagnosis?

A positive biopsy means a lymphoma diagnosis. After receiving a diagnosis, an individual is then referred to an oncologist where more specific tests are done that will help an individual receive specific treatment.

An oncologist, or cancer specialist Icon: External Link, will run tests to determine which lymphoma the individual has. There are over 30 related lymphomas and which cancer an individual has will affect their treatment. A bone marrow test, gallium scan and blood test will be done to determine which lymphoma it is, while X-rays and CT scans are required to determine how far the cancer has spread.

Lymphoma has four stages, the first being where only one group of lymph nodes are affected, and the fourth being where organs far from the lymph nodes are affected by cancerous cells. These stages will affect the doctor’s recommended treatment. A prognosis will be made depending on the type of lymphoma, which stage it is in and the overall health of the individual.


Lymphoma is an overwhelming diagnosis, and the tests an individual must go through to come to this diagnosis are exhausting. Understanding what this diagnosis involves and what happens after a lymphoma diagnosis can help an individual and their family face the treatment that follows.