Once all the test results are ready, your doctor will be able to tell which parts of your body are affected by your lymphoma. This is called the â€˜stageâ€™ of your lymphoma. It will be important in planning your treatment. NHL doesnâ€™t always begin in stage I and spread to more advanced stages. More than half of all patients with intermediate or aggressive disease and more than 80 percent of all patients with indolent disease are diagnosed with stage III or IV NHL. And if someone is diagnosed in stage IV, it doesnâ€™t mean that the disease is incurable â€“ it may be highly curable depending on the subtype.
The different stages are described below.
Stage I – One group of lymph nodes affected
Stage II – Two or more groups of lymph nodes affected on one side of the diaphragm*
Stage III – Lymph nodes affected on both sides of the diaphragm*
Stage IV – Lymphoma can be found either in organs not in the lymphatic system or in the bone marrow
Sometimes letters are added to the stage too. â€˜Bâ€™ would mean you have B symptoms (unexplained weight loss, drenching night sweats or fevers); â€˜Aâ€™ would mean you have none of these. For example, if you have lymphoma on both sides of your diaphragm and have been having night sweats, your lymphoma will be called stage IIIB. If you have lymphoma in several groups of lymph nodes that are all above your diaphragm and have had no other symptoms, your lymphoma will be called stage IIA