The establishment of the location and the extent of the spread of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is known as the staging process. Staging is a cumulative method of describing at which area the cancer or the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is located, how far it has spread and if it is affecting any other parts or organs in the body. Staging process can be used to evaluate how many lymph node areas are affected by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, where are the affected lymph nodes located-are they in one part or spread over the body, the affected lymph nodes are located on one side of the diaphragm or both sides of the diaphragm, whether the cancer has spread to other distant parts of the body as well.
The stages are denominated using roman numerals from 1 to 4 (I TO IV), where I is the initial stage of spread of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and IV is the most advanced stage of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, it must be noted that even stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be treated successfully.
Stages Of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
As with most other cancers, there are four stages of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage I-
Any of these two conditions can be present-
The cancer is in one area of lymph nodes or
The cancer may have spread to one organ other outside of lymphatic system but not to any other lymph node area.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage II-
Any of these conditions may be present-
The cancer has spread to two or more areas of lymph nodes and they are on only one side of the diaphragm or
The cancer is spread in one organ and its related lymph nodes, with or without cancer in other lymph node areas, but on only one side of the diaphragm.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage III-
The cancer is spread to lymph node regions on both the sides of the diaphragm
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage IV-
The cancer has spread throughout the body and crossed the lymph nodes.
Stages III and IV are now considered as a single group, as the treatment for both the stages is same. Also, the prognosis is same for both the stages.
Apart from these four stages, there are two more stages of NHL. They are not quite the stages, but condition which derive their names according to the time of their occurrence. They are-
Progressive Stage Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
This stage is also known as a refractory stage
This stage is given its name, if the cancer spreads or keeps growing even while the person is being treated for the original cancer.
Recurrent Stage Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
This non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage is named, when the lymphoma returns after the successful completion of the treatment.
This is also known as a relapse of the lymphoma.
It may recur in the same place as the original lymphoma, or it may occur at an altogether different site.
Recurrence usually occurs within first three years of the completion of the treatment.
If the lymphoma recurs, it may be needed to be staged again.
Also, the letters A and B are used to describe whether the person is experiencing any symptoms or not.
A is used to state that the person is not experiencing any significant symptoms related to the non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
B is used to state that the person is experiencing significant symptoms related to the NHL.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is classified as an indolent lymphoma or aggressive lymphoma. Depending upon the type, the treatment of NHL is ascertained.
The indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma generally does not require any treatment at the very beginning. They are closely-watched and the treatment is started only if any changes are seen.
Aggressive lymphoma cases may need to start treatment right away.
Also, after ascertaining the stage of NHL according to the above system, the treatment methodologies can be decided.
Staging in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is very important, in order to start a correct treatment method.