The stage of a cancer provides information on the extent to which the cancer has spread within the body.
Stage of Lymphoma
There are four stages of Lymphoma, with stages 1 and 2 being limited (involving a limited area of the body) and stages 3 and 4 being advanced (more widespread). The stage is determined by:
- The number and location of lymph nodes affected
- Whether the affected lymph nodes are above, below or on both sides of the diaphragm (the large, dome-shaped muscle under the ribcage that separates the chest from the abdomen)
- Whether the disease has spread to the bone marrow or to other organs such as the liver
Clinical Grading of Lymphoma
The doctor must also determine the grade of the tumour, which provides information on how aggressive (fast-growing) the tumour is and helps predict how the tumour will behave. This information then helps to decide the aggressiveness of the treatment approach.
The grade is determined by the appearance of the cancer cells, what unique characteristics they have, how they function and how quickly they grow and divide.
Each stage of Lymphoma may also be classified as A or B. Patients with a B classification status have one or more of the following “B symptoms”:
- Unexplained weight loss of more than 10% in the six months before diagnosis
- Unexplained fever with temperatures above 38°C
- Drenching night sweats
The presence of B symptoms may be associated with more advanced-stage disease.