The stages of lymphoma are the same for both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both types of lymphoma are classified on a scale from one to four, with higher numbers representing more extensive cancers.
The Four Stages of Lymphoma
Staging helps oncologists explain how far the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes and whether it has metastasized into any nearby tissues or organs. The main stages of lymphoma are as follows:
- Stage 1 lymphoma – Cancer is found in one lymph node, a lymphoid organ such as the thymus or one area of a single organ outside of the lymphatic system.
- Stage 2 lymphoma – Cancer is found in two lymph nodes (both on the same side of the diaphragm) or extends from one lymph node into a nearby organ.
- Stage 3 lymphoma – Cancer is found in several lymph nodes, both above and below the diaphragm, and may also have spread to the spleen.
- Stage 4 lymphoma – Cancer is found outside of the lymphatic system or in two or more distant organs such as the liver or the lungs.
Sometimes, a physician will add the letter “A” or “B” after the numerical lymphoma stage. Stage A is assigned if a patient does not have night sweats, unexplained fevers or unexplained weight loss, while stage B is assigned if any of these symptoms are present.
Once a physician has determined the stage of a patient’s cancer, he or she can then create a targeted treatment plan. For instance, the earlier stages of lymphoma are often treated with short cycles of chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy to the affected lymph nodes. The later stages of lymphoma may be treated with different types of chemotherapy drugs along with prescription steroids for symptom management.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, the cancer’s stage is just one of the factors that we evaluate when creating a patient’s lymphoma treatment plan. Our oncologists individualize every aspect of treatment based on the size and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Additionally, all of our treatments are available in a single location without referrals, streamlining the process for our patients.
Medically reviewed by Julio Chavez, MD, Malignant Hematology.