What questions should you ask regarding blood pathology if you might have lymphoma?
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes, and if this disease is suspected by your physician, then your blood will need to be analyzed.
If you or your doctor suspect lymphoma or leukemia, your blood will need to be scrutinized by a pathologist. A blood pathologist is called a hematopathologist.
If your doctor informs you that your samples need to be sent to a hematopathologist, here are some questions you should ask about this process, according to Dr. Zsuzsanna Vegh-Goyarts, assistant director of the Flow Cytometry department at Acupath Laboratories, a leading anatomic pathology and cancer genetics laboratory.
Questions to ask blood pathologist if you might have lymphoma or leukemia:
Who will evaluate the specimen? Can I speak to the blood pathologist?
The blood pathologist does not have direct contact with the patient. “Your doctor will send your samples, along with your clinical history, to a laboratory to process and test,” says Dr. Vegh-Goyarts.
What happens to specimen when it reaches the lab? The sample is processed, measured, tested, analyzed by licensed lab technologists.
A blood pathologist will carefully examine results, then construct a report and diagnosis. Your doctor will receive a final diagnostic report.
What is a biopsy? A biopsy means removing a sample of cells, fluid or tissue for analysis. Ask what kinds of tests will be done.
Most frequently, a blood pathologist will test for CBC (complete blood count), red and white blood cell count, hematocrit, platelet count, red blood cell volume, concentration of hemoglobin, and differential blood count. What if CBC results are abnormal? Further testing is warranted.
What can I learn from these tests? Results can determine diagnosis of lymphoma, leukemia and other diseases.
How fast will I get the test results? Your doctor normally gets results within 24 hours, though a specialty test may require several days. Your doctor should then immediately contact you.
Dr. Vegh-Goyarts explains, “It is important that your doctor sends samples to an experienced hematopathologist within an established and accredited diagnostics laboratory in order to receive the most accurate results, and ultimately allowing for the best patient care.
“On the other hand the hematologist relies on the clinical data from the patient’s physician to establish a diagnosis.
“Laboratory data are always viewed in the light of all the clinical background and all test results.
“Physician and hematopathologist often discuss the case before the final conclusion is reached regarding the diagnosis.”
Blood diseases affect hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.