Mecklenburg Radiology

Lymphoma

Lymphoma refers to a group of cancers arising from white blood cells (lymphocytes). Patients
will often present with painless enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), an enlarged spleen,
fevers, night sweats, unintentional weight loss, or fatigue. There are many types of lymphoma
that can affect different age groups, and different types of lymphoma can present nearly
anywhere in the body.

How do diagnose Lymphoma?

CT Scan
Frequently, we use computed tomography, or CT scans, to diagnose and stage lymphoma. CT scanners use a series of x-rays and powerful computers to create 2 and 3-dimensional images of the body. This is done in combination with laboratory values ordered by a patient’s primary physician, which are often abnormal in the setting of lymphoma.
Ultrasound
In patients with enlarged lymph nodes that can be felt on physical examination, ultrasound is usually performed first. Ultrasound does not produce radiation and instead uses high frequency soundwaves to image lymph nodes and other structures with a high level of detail.
Biopsy:
Needle biopsies can be performed under ultrasound or CT to obtain cells for the diagnosis and typing of lymphoma.
PET/CT:
PET/CT is a special technique used to stage lymphoma and is particularly useful in identifying the effects of treatment. Positron emission tomography utilizes the body’s natural uptake of modified glucose (sugar) with a CT scan to show sites of disease.

How do we treat Lymphoma?

Most high-grade lymphomas are treated with chemotherapy. One type of lymphoma, called Hodgkin lymphoma, can be treated with external-beam radiation alone, which is administered by a radiation-oncologist.
Low-grade lymphomas can simply be observed over time with periodic PET/CT or CT scans if patients are asymptomatic. If and when symptoms arise, chemotherapy and radiation are the main lines of treatment. Occasionally, surgery is required to remove lymphoma masses that put pressure on vital organs.