Mantle Cell Lymphoma: Diagnosis

An accurate assessment of mantle cell lymphoma requires a number of diagnostic tests.

A diagnosis of MCL requires taking a sample of tumor tissue, called a bioposy and a hematopathologist (a doctor specializing in the identification of hematologic malignancies) will examine the tumor tissue under a microscope and confirm the diagnosis. Examinations and additional testing will then be performed to determine how far the disease has spread (staging) and how well the body is functioning.

Overproduction of a growth-promoting protein called Cyclin D1 is found in more than 90 percent of mantle cell lymphoma cases and is considered a very sensitive tool for diagnosing the disease. An inappropriate shuffling of DNA (called a translocation) causes the over-production of Cyclin D1, which contributes to the uncontrolled growth of these cancer cells. One-quarter to one-half of mantle cell lymphoma patients also have higher than normal levels of certain proteins that circulate in the blood, such as the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and the protein beta-2 microglobulin. Measuring levels of these proteins, in addition to certain mantle cell lymphoma tumor cell markers, can help gauge how aggressive an individual patient’s disease is and may guide therapy decisions.

To learn more about specific diagnostic tests for mantle cell lymphoma, including blood tests, bone marrow examination, X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, read the Foundation’s comprehensive booklet, Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.