All forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), including anaplastic large cell lymphoma, are divided into four distinct stages, based on how far the disease has spread. Stages I and II are considered localized, while stages III and IV are considered advanced, widespread or disseminated. A brief description of each stage can be found below:
THE FOUR STAGES OF NON-HODGKIN LYMPHOMA:
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.
It is important to remember that being diagnosed with lymphoma at an advanced stage is common, and unlike a stage IV diagnosis in solid tumor cancers, in which the primary cancer has spread to other sites, advanced stages for non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be treated. Staging the disease helps doctors to predict outcome or prognosis and determine treatment approaches. To learn more about the staging process download the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s comprehensive booklet, Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.