After adult Hodgkin lymphoma has been
diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the
staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
- CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography. For adult Hodgkin lymphoma, CT scans of the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis are taken.
- PET-CT scan : A procedure that combines the
pictures from a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan. The PET and CT scans are done at the same time on the same machine. The pictures from both scans are combined to make a more detailed picture than either test would make by itself. A PET scan is a procedure to find malignanttumorcells in the body. A small amount of radioactiveglucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET
scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy : The
removal of bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone by inserting a
hollow needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A pathologist views the bone marrow, blood, and
bone under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests
will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions
about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the
results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging.
Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.
National Cancer Institute (September 2013)