Staging of NHL
As well as knowing the type of lymphoma you have, your doctors will also need to find out where the lymphoma is in your body, how many groups of lymph nodes are affected, and whether or not it has spread to other organs. This is called staging.
A commonly used staging system is described below:
Stage 1 One group of lymph nodes is affected.
Stage 2 The lymphoma is in two or more groups of lymph nodes on the same side of (above or below) the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle under the lungs that helps us breathe.
Stage 3 The lymphoma is on both sides of the diaphragm (above and below).
Stage 4 The lymphoma has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other organs such as the bone marrow, liver or lungs.
Stages 1 and 2 are sometimes called early stage, limited stage or localised disease.
Stages 3 and 4 are sometimes called advanced disease.
As well as giving each stage a number, doctors also use a letter - A or B - after the stage number to describe whether or not you have the following symptoms:
an unexplained fever causing your temperature
to rise above 38°C (100.4°F)
drenching night sweats
unexplained weight loss.
The letter A means you don’t have these symptoms and the letter B means you do, so these symptoms are called B-symptoms.
Sometimes lymphoma is found in parts of the body outside the lymph nodes. This is called extranodal lymphoma. It’s described by adding the letter E (for extranodal) after the stage number.
The staging of extranodal lymphoma depends on whether the lymphoma started in an organ outside the lymph nodes (primary extranodal NHL) or whether it started in the lymph nodes then spread somewhere else. If you have extranodal lymphoma, your doctor can explain to you how this affects the stage.
Once your doctor knows the type of lymphoma you have and its stage, they can plan the most effective treatment for you.