What Is Stage I Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma staging refers to describing the extent of its spread i.e. how much and how far has the lymphoma spread. In addition to that, the location, size, and organs affected are also considered in staging cancer. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, in particular, the lymphocyte cells. When one has a lymphoma, these lymphocyte cells grow at an abnormal rate and they collect in areas such as the lymph nodes, thus resulting in swelling. A painless swollen lymph node is usually the first sign of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and often situated in the groin, armpits or neck. There are four major stages of Non-Hodgkin’s and stage I is the least aggressive and easily manageable of them all.

What Is Stage I Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

What Is Stage I Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

In the first stage of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the cancer is localized and only one area of lymph nodes have been affected. An organ that is part of the lymphatic system can also be affected, but the damage is very minimal. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can also be classified as stage I if the cancer has only affected an area of the single organ that isn’t part of the lymphatic system. Organs in the lymphatic system include; spleen, thymus, and tonsils, while organs outside the lymphatic system (extranodal) include; kidneys, bone marrow, liver, lungs, brain, and spinal cord. If symptoms are considered in stage I non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the stage can be classified as IB, IA, IX or IE. In stage IB, a patient exhibits B symptoms which include; high temperatures (fever), night sweats and weight loss.

Otherwise, that is if you lack the aforementioned symptoms, then the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is referred to as IA. IX refers to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma characterized by bulky disease, where the lymphoma exceeds a certain number in terms of size, for example; 6 cm or more for bulky disease and 10 cm or larger for diffuse large B cell types of lymphoma. In stage IE, this refers to Extranodal Lymphoma, whereby the lymphoma is found outside the region of lymph nodes.

Causes of Stage I Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

The exact cause of non-Hodgkins lymphoma is unknown; however, several conditions can increase one’s risk of developing cancer. They include; impaired immune system, Epstein-Barr virus (glandular fever virus), inflammation disorders such as Hashimoto thyroiditis, and exposure to harmful substances e.g. solvents and pesticides. Age is also a risk factor for non-Hodgkins whereby adults who are sixty and above are at a greater risk of developing cancer. Nonetheless, even children can develop certain forms of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

What You Need To Know About Staging Non-Hodgkins

Prior to staging non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, several tests including physical exam, blood tests, and biopsies are performed. Imaging tests and bone marrow aspiration are also done for further diagnosis of the condition. Since cancer manifests itself in different ways, staging is important as it helps the specialist doctor identify the extent of the spread. Furthermore, staging also helps with finding the best treatment option for the lymphoma patient. The classification system used in staging non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is known as Lugano Classification, whereby the stages are named using Roman numerals. Another important aspect considered during staging is the symptoms one experiences. For example; IB or IE, where one has B symptoms or the cancer is outside the lymph nodes respectively.


Staging is crucial in different types of cancer including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as it helps to understand how much and far the lymphoma has spread. It also helps build the foundation for what treatment to apply. Other than that, the symptoms one exhibits are crucial in staging Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, because it gives a clearer understanding of the extent of the spread. Stage I Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the first stage of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which is characterized by localized lymphoma. The lymphoma is either located on a group of lymph nodes on one side, or the lymphoma has affected a small part of an organ, inside or outside the lymphatic system. As a patient, it is important that you are aware of what stage your lymphoma is and the prognosis as well. This helps you to be prepared for what is to come, i.e. treatment and the likelihood of being cured of the cancer.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 27, 2021

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