Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into four stages, depending on how far the disease has spread. The “stage” is an important piece of information that helps to predict outcome, or prognosis, and determine a patient’s course of treatment. The four stages of Hodgkin lymphoma are detailed below.
- Stage I (early disease): The cancer is found only in a single lymph node or region.
- Stage II (locally advanced disease): The cancer is found in two or more lymph node regions on one side of the diaphragm (the breathing muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest).
- Stage III (advanced disease): The disease involves lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm.
- Stage IV (widespread disease): The lymphoma is outside the lymph nodes and spleen and has spread to one or more organs such as bone, bone marrow, lung or liver.
Each stage of Hodgkin lymphoma is further divided into “A” and “B” categories, depending on the symptoms patients exhibit when they are diagnosed. Some patients have symptoms that affect their entire body (called systemic symptoms), like fever, night sweats and weight loss. Patients who have these symptoms will have the letter “B” after the stage of their disease. The “A” category is used to designate a patient with no systemic symptoms. The category “E” is used when Hodgkin lymphoma spreads locally from a lymph node into the closely surrounding tissue.
To learn more about the staging process download the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s comprehensive booklet, Understanding Hodgkin Lymphoma.