Lymphoma Diagnosis and Staging

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-4673

Early and accurate diagnosis and staging of lymphoma is critical to delivering the most effective treatments and achieving optimal patient outcomes. 

At UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, we take lymphoma diagnosis to the highest level with the help of specialized hematopathologists. These doctors are pathologists uniquely trained to identify and classify the different types of complex and rare lymphomas. 

Diagnosis of Lymphoma

If lymphoma is suspected based on a physical exam and symptoms, we’ll order additional tests. These tests can include:

When appropriate, patients can also meet with our clinical geneticists, who can help determine if there is a predisposition for lymphoma that could affect their relatives. 


A cancer’s stage indicates whether it has spread beyond the site in which it originated, and if so, how far. The stage of lymphoma helps our team determine the most appropriate treatment. 

Lymphoma staging is typically based on the findings of the physical exam, laboratory studies, imaging studies, and/or biopsy. We use the Ann Arbor staging system, where a patient is placed into one of four stages:

  • Stage I – Involvement of a single lymph node region (I) or of a single extralymphatic organ or site (IE) without nodal involvement. A single lymph node region can include one node or a group of adjacent nodes.
  • Stage II – Involvement of two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm alone (II) or with involvement of limited, contiguous extralymphatic organ or tissue (IIE).
  • Stage III – Involvement of lymph node regions or lymphoid structures on both sides of the diaphragm.
  • Stage IV – Additional noncontiguous extralymphatic involvement, with or without associated lymphatic involvement.

Stages III and IV are considered advanced, however, lymphoma patients placed in these stages can still be cured in many cases.