• Stages of Lymphoma

Stages of Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer that impacts the human lymphatic system. Lymphatic system constitutes the immune system. It helps the body fight against infection and diseases. The lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen, and bone marrow form the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma is broadly divided into Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Staging of lymphoma helps doctors to determine the prognosis and also to plan treatment.

Basic Stages of Lymphoma

While identifying the stage of the lymphoma, the doctors evaluate the following:

  • Physical examination- doctors will press lightly and look for enlarged nodes in your neck, axillae and groins. Your abdomen will be palpated for increase in size of liver and spleen or any masses. Your testes will be examined.
  • Scans- CECT chest/abdomen and pelvis or PET CT scan.
  • Sometimes, your doctor might suggest bone marrow examination or lumbar puncture.

Based on the test results and the assessment, lymphoma cancer is divided into four stages. They are numbered from 1-4 and also written as I-IV. It is based on the lymphoma's location against your body's diaphragm. Diaphragm is a muscle sheet that helps separate the chest from the stomach.

Stage 1 Lymphoma

Stage 1 Lymphoma is the first stage of Lymphoma. It means the lymphoma has only affected one lymph node or glands group. Stage 1E is a type of lymphoma affecting one body organ outside the human lymphatic system and is only restricted to a particular organ. It is also referred to as extra-nodal lymphoma.

Stage 2 Lymphoma

It is the next stage of lymphoma, where more than one lymph node group is affected by it. But, again, it can occur anywhere throughout the body. But for lymphoma to be categorized as stage 2, it must be present in the diaphragm’s same side.

Stage 2E lymphoma is identified when one of the non-lymphatic body organs gets affected, and cancer also affects more than a single lymph node group. All of them have to be on the diaphragm’s same side.

Stage 2 bulky is another lymphoma staging where stage 2 or 2E is diagnosed with a mass or lump around the chest. The mass will be around 10 cm or around 1/3rd of the diameter of the chest.

Stage 3 Lymphoma

Stage 3 Lymphoma is the third stage of cancer, where the lymphoma is present in lymph nodes on both the diaphragm’s sides.

Stage 4 Lymphoma

Stage 4 Lymphoma is the last or most advanced Lymphoma stage. In this stage, the lymphoma started in one of the lymph nodes but has now spread to at least one organ that is not a part of the lymphatic system. It can include body organs like the liver, lungs, bones, or bone marrow. It is critical to note that the thymus and spleen constitute the lymphatic system; thus, having only lymphoma in them doesn’t mean stage IV cancer.

Limited Stage of Lymphoma

The first two stages, or stage 1 and stage 2, constitute the limited stage of lymphoma.

Extensive Stage of Lymphoma

The last two stages, or stage 3 and stage 4, constitute the extensive stage of lymphoma. It is also known as the advanced stage as it is more widespread in the body. But it is critical to remember that, unlike other types of cancer, many advanced lymphomas can be cured. Therefore, it is essential to talk to the doctor to understand the chances of your cancer cure and a long-term remission plan.

Stages According to Letters

Letter A/B: This is used in staging of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The letter “A” means you do not have any inexplicable weight loss, night sweats, or high fevers. Similarly, for “B, " it means that some of the above symptoms are present during the diagnosis.

Letter E: The “E” here means “Extra-nodal”. It refers to lymphoma that starts in any body organ that doesn’t form the lymphatic system. For example, when the lymphoma starts in the salivary gland or digestive system. Any lymphoma started in the lymph nodes and then spreading to another body organ will not be a part of Stage “E” and will be stage 4.

The letter “S” refers to lymphoma that is present in the human spleen. It is critical to note that the thymus and spleen constitute our lymphatic system. And if the lymphoma begins developing in one of them, they will not be called extra-nodal.

The letter “X” is when some lymph nodes are considered bulky or large. In such cases, the doctor will mention the letter “X” along with the diagnosis. Though not all hospitals use this, it is common to remember to understand it better.

Conclusion of Stages of Lymphoma

Lymphoma diagnosis can be troublesome and leave you with much to worry about. Unfortunately, it is also common to not experience any signs and symptoms. Therefore, it is critical to use tests and scans to identify and diagnose the lymphoma better for an effective treatment. In addition, each lymphoma stage has a different prognosis and requires a different treatment set.

Therefore, identifying the lymphoma stage helps in better treatment preparation, planning, and recovery. To summarise, lymphoma is divided into four stages I, II, III, and IV, based on where it originated, the current state, and the organs it has affected.