Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Biopsy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Biopsy for Hodgkin lymphoma

A biopsy is a common diagnostic test for Hodgkin lymphoma. Our pathologists will examine the cells from a biopsy sample under a microscope to look for the presence of an abnormal lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell (or B lymphocyte). These distinctive cells are larger than normal lymphocytes and have large, pale nuclei.

We may use the below biopsies to determine the growth rate of the tumor and whether the disease has spread:

  • Bone marrow biopsy: The removal of a sample of bone marrow
  • Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of a lymph node

What is a biopsy?

During a biopsy, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or fluid from the body. A pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. 

Some biopsies are performed under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the radiology suite. In some cases, biopsies are performed in the operating suite. This allows your doctor to collect cells from deeper inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you will receive an anesthetic to reduce discomfort.

Compared with other diagnostic tests for cancer, biopsies often provide a more definitive diagnosis. A biopsy may help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body.

Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon and lymph nodes. Our doctors determine the most appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.

Biopsy medical animation