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How are hematologic cancers diagnosed?

The diagnosis of hematologic cancer is often suspected by symptoms or findings on physical examination. These symptoms indicate the presence of excessive cells in the bone marrow or lymphatic system (for example, bone pain and enlarged lymph nodes) or low numbers of normal blood cells. Blood tests may suggest the diagnosis by showing low numbers of normal blood cells. In myeloma, the diagnosis may be suspected by finding high quantities of proteins (produced by the cancer cells) in the blood or urine. The diagnosis of hematologic cancer, however, can only be made with certainty by examining cells from the cancer under a microscope. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are common ways to obtain these cells for examination in leukemia and myeloma. During these tests (which are usually done at the same time), small samples of bone marrow are removed through a needle inserted into a bone. In lymphoma, cancer cells are often obtained by biopsy of an enlarged lymph node.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.