Lymphoma can be diagnosed through a physical exam (checking for swollen lymph nodes), biopsy of a lymph node, blood tests, removing a sample of bone marrow for testing or imaging tests. In particular, a biopsy sample evaluated by a pathologist can improve diagnosis and the type of lymphoma a patient has.

Staging is different in children, versus adults:

  • Stage 1: there is lymphoma in only one group of lymph nodes, one organ outside the lymphatic system, one bone or the spleen.
  • Stage 2: there is lymphoma in two or more lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm, one extranodal body organ and a nearby group of lymph nodes or the gut.
  • Stage 3: there is lymphoma in two or more extranodal body organs, lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm, the chest, the gut, around the spinal cord or one bone plus an extranodal body organ or distant lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: there is lymphoma in the central nervous system or the bone marrow.

In adults, staging is comprised of:

  • Stage 1: there is lymphoma in only one group of lymph nodes.
  • Stage 1E: the lymphoma started in a single body organ outside the lymphatic system and is only in that organ.
  • Stage 2: there is lymphoma in two or more groups of lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2E: the lymphoma started in one body organ and is also in one or more groups of lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: there are lymph nodes that contain lymphoma on both sides of the diaphragm.
  • Stage 4: the lymphoma started in the lymph nodes and has spread to at least one body organ outside the lymphatic system.