Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma: Diagnosis

Symptoms of anaplastic large cell lymphoma include weight loss, night sweats, enlarged lymph nodes throughout the body (especially in the neck or armpits) and skin lesions in the cutaneous form. While many people who experience these symptoms do not have lymphoma, anyone with persistent symptoms should be seen by their doctor to make certain that lymphoma is not present. Only a physician will be able to conduct an accurate assessment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which requires a number of diagnostic tests, which are detailed below.

First, a hematopathologist (a doctor specializing in the identification of hematologic malignancies) will examine tumor tissue under a microscope and confirm the diagnosis. Examinations and additional testing will then be performed to determine how far the disease has spread (staging) and how well the body is functioning. These tests may include some of the following:

  • Biopsies
  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow examination
  • Imaging Tests
    •  X-rays
    • Computerized tomography (CT) scans
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Molecular diagnostic tests

For a complete description of these tests, read the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s comprehensive booklet, Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

All of the information gained from these diagnostic tests will help the patient’s healthcare team determine the best course of treatment for their particular type of anaplastic large cell lymphoma.