This page provides a simple explanation of what the term “prognosis” means and the individual factors considered by doctors, when they develop a prognosis.
What does ‘prognosis’ mean?
When someone receives a lymphoma diagnosis, or any cancer diagnosis for that matter, often a question that is often asked is “what is my prognosis”?
But what does the term prognosis mean?
The prognosis is the expected course and estimated outcome of medical treatment.
A prognosis is not a prediction of the future, as every lymphoma diagnosis is unique. Medical research provides doctors with information that can predict outcomes based on overall reported cases. There is no way of predicting exactly how the lymphoma that is affecting a patient will respond. Everyone is different.
It is better to refrain from ‘Google-ing’ questions like:
What is the prognosis for . . .
What is my prognosis if . . .
These questions are better discussed personally with your doctor and treating team. Because there are many important factors that contribute to a lymphoma prognosis, and the internet does not take into consideration all of the unique and personal factors, such as:
Factors considered in a prognosis
- The subtype of lymphoma diagnosed
- The stage of the lymphoma when it is first diagnosed
- Clinical features of the lymphoma
- The lymphoma biology:
- The patterns of the lymphoma cells
- How different the lymphoma cells are to normal healthy cells
- How fast the lymphoma is growing
- Lymphoma symptoms at diagnosis
- The age of the patient when diagnosed
- The age of the patient when starting treatment (some lymphoma does not need treatment for years)
- Previous medical history
- Personal preferences for treatment
- How the lymphoma responds to initial treatment
The ‘prognostic factors’ listed above, have been used worldwide, in both medical research and data analysis, to help doctors learn how different lymphoma subtypes might behave. Understanding and recording how each person’s lymphoma behaves, helps to inform doctors about potential outcomes.
What is a prognosis used for?
A prognosis is used by the doctors to help them determine the aim of your treatment.
Doctors use a prognosis to help determine the best course of treatment. Certain factors such as age, past medical history and the type of lymphoma, all contribute to the direction of the lymphoma treatment for each patient.
While the type of lymphoma is one of the primary considerations for what treatment is needed, the additional factors listed above, strongly inform how doctors will make treatment decisions.
It is important to remember that doctors cannot guarantee any particular outcome. The expected or anticipated outcome, is based on data which reflects an overall picture of their lymphoma subtype.
The reason the above factors are considered, are because they have been scientifically proven to contribute to the outcomes of other patients who have been treated before you.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What is my lymphoma subtype?
- How common is my lymphoma?
- What is the most common treatment for people with my type of lymphoma?
- What is my prognosis?
- What does this prognosis mean?
- How do you anticipate my lymphoma to respond to your suggested treatment?
- Is there anything distinctive about my lymphoma that is prognostically significant?
- Are there any clinical trials for my lymphoma that I should know of