Hodgkin's Disease Tests and Diagnosis

If you have swollen lymph nodes or another symptom that may suggest Hodgkin’s disease, your doctor will likely ask about your personal and family medical history.

Tests and exams that may be performed include:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will check for swollen lymph nodes in your neck, underarms and groin, as well as to determine if your spleen or liver is swollen.
  • Blood tests: The lab does a complete blood count (CBC) to check the number of white blood cells, other cells and substances.
  • Chest X-rays: X-ray pictures may indicate swollen lymph nodes or other signs of disease in your chest.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the only certain way to diagnose Hodgkin’s disease. Your doctor may remove an entire lymph node (excisional biopsy) or only part of a lymph node (incisional biopsy). A thin needle (fine needle aspiration) usually cannot remove a sample that is large enough for the pathologist to diagnose Hodgkin’s disease. Removing an entire lymph node is generally the preferred procedure.