After an individual is diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the medical team will determine if it has spread and, if so, how far. The stage of a cancer indicates how much cancer is in the body, how serious it is, and how to treat it. This process is called staging. Gathering staging information can include a physical exam, blood tests, biopsies, imaging tests, and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). In general, imaging tests such as PET or CT scans are the most important when determining the stage of NHL in a patient.
The stages are as follows:
- Stage I: The cancer is relatively confined to one lymph-node region or close group, such as the tonsils.
- Stage II: The cancer has begun to affect two lymph-node regions or an organ and nearby lymph nodes. At this stage, the cancer is still considered to be limited to a relatively confined area above or below the diaphragm.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread out across regions below and above the diaphragm.
- Stage IV: NHL cancer cells have spread to multiple organs, tissues, and are potentially affecting other organs or body parts, such as the liver or bones.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be a very serious condition. For many of the more common types of NHL, treatment depends on which stage it is in. The medical professionals helping you on your journey will provide you a timeline of treatment.
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