Leukemia & Lymphoma: Diagnosis and Symptoms

A correct diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma is essential so that the most appropriate treatment can be provided. The team at Houston Methodist has extensive clinical expertise in managing blood cancers with a commitment to excellence.

Symptoms of Leukemia/Lymphoma
Most early symptoms of leukemia and lymphoma are general in nature and likely not related to the diseases. If you notice any of the following symptoms, however, in yourself, your child, or another family member, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Infections and fever
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Coughing or trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the face and arms
  • Headaches, seizures or vomiting
  • Rashes or gum problems

Again, these symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.

Diagnostic Tests for Leukemia/Lymphoma

If signs and symptoms suggest that you may have leukemia or lymphoma, your doctor will probably recommend one or more of the following exams and tests to find the cause:  

  • A medical history and physical exam will include a review of your personal and family medical history, and an examination of your lymph nodes and other areas.
  • Blood tests may be required by your doctor to check the level of several substances in your blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Bone marrow tests draws samples from your bone marrow to be examined to diagnosed to classify the disease.
  • Molecular genetic studies can identify chromosome and gene abnormalities that direct treatment.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is a test used to identify leukemia cells in the spinal fluid.
  • Biopsy is a test in which a lymph node or tumor mass is removed and studied, and is often used to diagnose lymphomas.
  • Imaging tests include chest X-rays, CT scans, bone scans and other imaging tests demonstrate how far the disease has spread and whether treatment has been effective.

Perhaps the best way to learn about Houston Methodist and our highly trained specialists, compassionate environment and innovative cancer diagnosis and treatments is through our patients. View an inspiring story about Sophie Hoelscher, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and by an expert team of doctors at Houston Methodist.