One of the first things on the minds of patients diagnosed with cancer usually is what their prognosis might be. Thanks to expanding research and targeted cancer treatments, the prognoses for lymphoma patients are improving.
So, what is lymphoma and how is it treated? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Lymphoma? Understanding Lymphoma
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the cells in the immune system called lymphocytes.
There are two types of lymphoma:
- Hodgkin lymphoma, also called Hodgkin disease.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Lymphomas are the most common form of cancer in teens ages 15 to 19. Every patient’s prognosis is different, but Hodgkin disease, for the most part, can be treated and managed.
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What are the Survival Rates for Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Patients may wonder, “Can lymphoma can be fully cured?”
Lymphoma is considered one of the most treatable forms of cancer if found early. For NHL, the overall five- and 10-year relative survival rates are 69% and 59%, respectively. For Hodgkin lymphoma, the survival rates are equally improved. The five-year survival rate is 85% and the 10-year survival rate is 80%.
There are many factors that influence prognosis and survival rate, which can include:
- Age —Being under 60 can improve your prognosis as you are more likely to fight off disease.
- Stage of disease — Stage I or II can offer the best prognoses, though later stages may be highly treatable as well.
- No lymphoma outside of lymph nodes, or lymphoma in only one area outside of lymph nodes.
- Performance status — Ability to function normally; ranked on a scale of zero to 100 (100 meaning you are at normal health).
- High serum LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) levels — The LDH enzyme is usually released when cells are damaged or destroyed.
Lymphoma staging is identifying where the disease is located and the potential areas of your body it may have spread. Diagnostic testing is used to detect the cancer’s stage, which helps the doctor determine an appropriate course of treatment.
Stage I lymphoma
- Stage I — The cancer has been detected in one lymph node region.
- Stage IE — The cancer has invaded one organ outside of the lymphatic system, but not any lymph node regions.
Stage II lymphoma
- Stage II — The cancer is in two or more areas on the same side of the diaphragm.
- Stage IIE — The cancer is affecting one organ and surrounding lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm.
Stages III and IV lymphoma
- Stage III — Lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm are cancerous.
- Stage IV — The cancer has spread throughout the body. Common areas include liver, lungs, and bone marrow.
- Occurs when the cancer grows or spreads while being treated for the original lymphoma.
- When lymphoma returns after previously being treated, either in its original location or in a new area of the body.
- Recurrence can occur shortly after treatment or years later.
- Re-staging may be necessary in the event of a recurrence.
Lymphoma Risk Factors
Most of the risk factors that contribute to lymphoma are unknown. However, some studies have found that certain factors are associated with an increased risk of the disease, including:
- High serum LDH (lactate dehydrogenase).
- Age – Studies have shown that Hodgkin lymphoma primarily occurs in people ages 15 to 35 and people over 55. Adults over 60 usually are more at risk for Hodgkin lymphoma because of lower immune function.
- Viruses – Carrying viruses such as Epstein-Barr or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been found to increase the risk of developing lymphoma.
It is also possible that other factors — such as workplace exposure to certain substances (herbicides, insecticides, or wood dust) — and obesity may increase the risk of lymphoma. However, these associations are still being studied by researchers and may or may not be risk factors.
International Prognostic Index for Lymphoma
The International Prognostic Index for Lymphoma was developed by oncologists as a tool for predicting the prognosis of patients with more aggressive cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms
Symptoms of non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas are similar. Symptoms are not immediately obvious and may be mistaken for a severe cold or flu. Common symptoms include:
- Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain.
- Soaking night sweats.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin.
- Weakness and tiredness that doesn’t go away.
Lymphoma Treatment Options
Treatment options for lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are usually similar to other types of cancer treatment. Although the types may be similar, your specific treatment plan may vary greatly depending on what your doctor recommends. Treatments can include one or more of the following:
How Long Can a Person Live with Lymphoma?
Thanks to the collection of treatment options available today, more than half of all people diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma will be living more than five years after their cancer treatment.
It’s important to keep in mind that survival rates vary depending on the stage of diagnosis and the overall health of the person. But thanks to modern medical advances, there is a good chance of survival with non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma.
To learn more about the treatment options of lymphoma or to schedule an appointment, visit the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center website or call 412-647-2811.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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