Hodgkin Lymphoma: Tests After Diagnosis

What tests might I have after being diagnosed?

After a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma, you will likely have other tests. These tests help your healthcare providers learn more about your cancer. They can help show if the cancer has grown into nearby areas. Or if it has spread to other parts of your body. The test results help your healthcare providers decide the best ways to treat the cancer. If you have any questions about these or other tests, be sure to talk with your healthcare team.

The tests you may have can include:

  • Chest X-ray

  • CT scan

  • PET scan

  • MRI

Imaging tests

Chest X-ray

This test uses a small amount of radiation to create images. Swollen lymph nodes in the chest can usually be seen on a chest X-ray. 

CT scan

This may be done of your chest, abdomen, and pelvis. This test uses a series of X-rays from many angles. A computer puts the images together into one detailed image. You may need to drink a special X-ray dye, or contrast medium, just before the scan. Or the dye may be injected into your vein through an IV or intravenous line. The dye helps images show up more clearly on the X-rays. The dye may cause a warm feeling in your face or chest. Tell the healthcare provider if you are allergic to or have had a reaction to the dye. A CT scan can show groups of lymph nodes, a swollen spleen, or abnormal growths in your liver.

PET scan

For this test, a radioactive sugar is injected into your bloodstream. Cancer cells use more sugar than normal cells, so the sugar will collect in cancer cells. A special camera is used to see where the radioactive sugar is in your body. A PET scan can sometimes spot lymphomas in different areas of the body, even when they can’t be seen by other tests. It can also show if lymphoma treatment is working. This test is often used along with a CT scan. This is called a PET/CT scan.


An MRI uses large magnets and radio waves to take detailed pictures of the inside of your body. An MRI is not as useful as a CT scan to find lymphoma. But it can help show if the cancer has spread to your brain and spinal cord. For this test, you lie still on a table as it slides into a tube-like scanner. If you are not comfortable in small spaces, you may be given a medicine to relax you before the test. This is called a sedative. The scanner directs a beam of radio waves at the area that is being checked. You may need more than one set of images. Each one may take 2 to 15 minutes. This test is painless, but it may take an hour or more depending on the number of images needed.

Working with your healthcare provider

Your doctor will talk with you about which tests you’ll have. Make sure to get ready for the tests as instructed. Ask questions and talk about any concerns you have.

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