Leukemia vs. Mantle cell lymphoma

Selina M. Luger, MD
Last Modified: September 22, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My mother was told she has leukemia. Then they gave her a bone marrow test and told her she has mantle cell lymphoma. Everything I have read says she needed a lymph node biopsy. Tomorrow they are giving her a MRI on her pelvis. None of this seems right to me, could you help me please?



Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

As I try to piece this together, I suspect that your mother presented with abnormalities in her blood that were suspected to be leukemia cells. However when further tests were done on the blood or bone marrow, the test showed that the cells that they saw were not actually leukemia cells but lymphoma cells, more specifically mantle cell lymphoma cells. If a diagnosis can be made on the blood or bone marrow, then there is no reason to get a sample from a lymph node as well. The reason lymph nodes are usually biopsied is in order to make the diagnosis. If however, the diagnosis is possible without a lymph node biopsy, then that is fine. If a diagnosis of lymphoma is considered, then scans (CT or MRI) are needed of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to determine the extent of the disease. Once they have all the results they can decide if other studies are needed.


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