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Bone Marrow/Blood/Lymph Node Biopsy

Your doctor may order a biopsy of the bone marrow or analysis of a peripheral blood smear, if he or she suspects you  have a blood disorder.

He or she may also order a biopsy of one or more lymph nodes — in the groin, armpit, neck, or elsewhere.

As part of the immune system, lymph nodes nurture white blood cells, which help to fight infection. They also trap bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.

Types of Bone Marrow, Blood, and Lymph Node Diseases

Testing may indicate one of the following diseases:

  • Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or of the bone marrow; its hallmark is an increase in the number of white blood cells.
  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphoid tissues, which are part of the immune system.
  • Anemia is a disorder characterized by a decrease in red blood cells.
  • Swollen lymph nodes may indicate the presence of inflammatory diseases, infection, or cancer.

Each of these conditions present in several forms, and it's not possible to determine what kind of disease is present through observation alone. Your doctor may refer you for further testing, which may involve a biopsy or blood sample.

The Role of the Pathologist

The pathologist will examine your bone marrow, lymph node, or blood sample, and provide a diagnosis that will help your doctor formulate the most appropriate treatment plan for you.

More Information on Blood and Immune System Pathology

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