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Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which plays an important role in the body's immune system. In the United States, the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is 2.1 percent and getting Hodgkin Lymphoma is approximately 0.2 percent, and survival depends on a timely diagnosis so that treatment can be given. PET/CT scans are performed when a doctor believes that lymphoma may be present. Southwest Diagnostic Center for Molecular Imaging offers scanning for Lymphoma cancer at our facility in Dallas, Texas.
How PET Scans Work to Find Lymphoma
PET scans tend to be most useful in those who have Hodgkin lymphoma or high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma because the lymphoma cells are typically more active. The PET scan will help the doctor determine which cells are cancerous and which ones aren't. A PET scan will be combined with a CT scan, which provides accurate images of the body's organs, lymph nodes, tumors.
Risk Factors of Lymphoma
The following are risk factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma:
- Previous infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection or mononucleosis
- Weakened immune system
- Age: occurs most often in early adulthood (20's) or late adulthood (after the age of 55)
- Family History
The following are risk factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma:
- Age (mostly people older than 50)
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Previous Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Radiation exposure
- Immune system deficiency and HIV infection
When PET Scans are Used
PET scans are typically performed at the beginning or end of a treatment cycle. Before treatment begins, a PET scan is commonly used to determine what stage the lymphoma is and which parts of the body are affected. After treatment, diagnostic imaging will be performed to:
- Determine the effectiveness of the treatment.
- Create a future treatment plan based on the results.
- Determine if the lymphoma has returned a few months or years after treatment.
During and After the Scan
The patient should not eat or drink anything other than water at least four to six hours before the scan. The PET scan will not be painful and should take less than an hour. Once the scan is completed, the patient will be able to go home afterward. The results of the scan will not be immediate. The doctor will typically receive the scan within a few days, determine their results, and talk to you about what the results mean.