Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common, aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Cancer Education
3 min read

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma starts in the lymphatic system. It often shows up as one or more enlarged lymph nodes. Sometimes bone marrow or blood can show signs of the disease. 

Some common symptoms patients develop that lead to a specialist include: 

  • Fevers 

  • Sweats 

  • Weight loss

Your first tests for a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma diagnosis 

Your specialist will need to perform a biopsy. This will confirm if you have DLBCL. There are different types of biopsies. Your specialist will discuss the best choice for you. Biopsy options include: 

  • A guided needle to aspirate (remove) some lymph fluid for testing 

  • A larger biopsy where the doctor removes a small piece of tissue for testing 

  • The removal of a lymph node

Using the biopsy, we will find how far the disease has spread and how fast it is growing. We call this staging. Tests for staging usually include: 

  • Imaging 

  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography) or CT (Computed Tomography) scans 

  • Blood tests that help inform your specialist about the rest of your body

Some patients will also need a bone marrow biopsy to see if the disease has affected the bones. A bone marrow biopsy can also help guide the right treatment choice for you. 


A biopsy is vital to diagnose your condition. To understand your condition, we test your sample using special stains (dyes). These stains help show the exact disease and how fast it is growing. 

Our testing will also show if your disease is a sub-type of DLBCL. Some sub-types of DLBCL include: 

  • Germinal centre diffuse large B-cell lymphoma 

  • Activated B diffuse large cell lymphoma 

  • Myc-rearranged B-cell lymphoma

Your biopsy results will guide what treatment is best for you. 

Focusing on your diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treatment 

Treatment for DLBCL depends on disease staging. Treatment will involve chemotherapy and might include an antibody treatment such as rituximab. 

R- CHOP is the most common type of chemotherapy. We deliver this to patients as part of our same day services. As an outpatient, you will receive about six cycles of this treatment. Each treatment cycle runs for a half day, once every three weeks. 

To enhance your treatment, we may also use radiotherapy. This can help control the disease and may reduce the number of chemotherapy cycles. 

Sometimes, we will offer a different type of chemotherapy. The right treatment for you will depend on your biopsy results and your genetic makeup. This will also help guide your participation in one of our clinical trials. 

Enhancing your care after treatment 

After effective treatment, patients will continue to see their specialist every three months. We use these visits to take and test blood to check your health. 

Some rare cases will need repeat PET or CT scans for a year or two. Your specialist will discuss the best follow-up plan for you. 

Living with cancer 

We know how hard cancer and treatment can be. It can disrupt and change your lifestyle and that of your loved ones. During this time, it is common to struggle with ongoing concerns about cancer and therapy. 

There are many expert groups available to support you through this time, including: 

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma support 

We focus on all aspects of your health and wellbeing. Our ‘aggressive lymphoma’ specialist nurse will help support you. They can also guide you to the best information and managed care. 

Our specialist nurse can refer you to our: 

Patient and carer resources 

You can find out more information about non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. This includes their treatment and support for patients and families. Download copies of the following resources: 

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