Diagnosis of Castleman’s Disease
Because Castleman’s Disease is rare, and its symptoms are often similar to those caused by other diseases, it can be hard for a doctor to diagnose. Your doctor may first suspect you have a different illness, and, unfortunately, this can cause the diagnosing process to take longer.
To find out what is causing your symptoms, your doctor will probably take the following steps:
Take a medical history
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. He or she will also want to know about any other medical conditions you have, your family history, and any possible risk factors you may have for Castleman's Disease.
Have a physical examination
During the examination, your doctor will check your lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is infection, so your doctor will also be looking for any kind of infection.
Your doctor may order blood tests to check for infections, elevated IL-6 levels, or any other signs of Castleman’s Disease. He or she might also order imaging tests. These could include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, or positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which may show swelling or lumps (swollen lymph nodes) or other problems that could be causing your symptoms. Imaging tests might be especially important if you don’t have any swollen glands that your doctor is able to see or feel.
Take a biopsy
While the results of the examination and tests may lead your doctor to believe you have Castleman’s Disease, the only way to be sure is to do a biopsy. This means surgically removing an enlarged lymph node and then having a pathologist (a doctor who studies tissue changes) examine it under a microscope. There are specialists known as hematopathologists who have specific training and experience to examine and diagnose lymphoproliferative disorders such as Castleman’s Disease. You may want to ask your doctor if a hematopathologist will review your lymph node if it is removed.
Helpful tips for preparing for your doctor’s appointment