The aim of most lymphoma treatments is to send your lymphoma into remission. Remission means that the amount of lymphoma in your body has reduced or gone altogether after treatment. Remission is not the same as a cure. There are different types of remission, depending on how much the lymphoma has been reduced. The 2 types of remission are complete remission and partial remission
Complete remission (complete response)
Complete remission means your symptoms have gone and there is no evidence of lymphoma. There is no evidence on physical examination or on tests and scans at the end of the treatment. A complete response differs from a cure in that microscopic amounts of the cancer may remain in the patient and later produce a relapse. However, the longer the patient remains in a complete remission, the less likely the lymphoma will come back (relapse).
Hodgkin lymphoma and high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma are usually treated with the aim of sending the lymphoma into complete remission. For most people with these types of lymphoma, the disease is unlikely to relapse after successful treatment.
Partial remission (partial response)
Partial remission means your lymphoma has reduced (there are fewer lymphoma cells in the body, or it is affecting fewer parts of the body). Partial remission usually means the lymphoma has reduced by at least by half and the patient may have some symptoms of lymphoma following a partial remission.
Indolent (slow growing) non-Hodgkin lymphoma is likely to respond well to treatment. It is unlikely to go into complete remission. This is because the slow-growing cells in indolent lymphomas are hard to get rid of completely. Indolent lymphoma is therefore usually treated with the aim of sending it into as good a partial remission as possible.
Indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma can often be controlled for many years. Indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma usually comes back (relapses) or gets worse (progresses) at some point. This might not be for many months or years. Most patients with indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma have several different treatments over the course of their illness.