Childhood Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Tests and Diagnosis

The diagnosis of lymphoma in a child can be difficult and may be delayed because enlarged lymph nodes in children are much more commonly caused by infections. There is usually little cause for concern in children with swollen lymph nodes unless they are quite enlarged (greater than one inch across).

Certain signs and symptoms might suggest that a child has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests used to detect and diagnose childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of your child’s body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of your child’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. One of the following types of biopsies may be performed:
  • Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lymph node or lump of tissue.
  • Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lump, lymph node or sample of tissue.
  • Core biopsy: The removal of tissue or part of a lymph node using a wide needle.
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: The removal of tissue or part of a lymph node using a thin needle.
  • 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. 
  •