Dr. Mihai Merzianu with team looking at slides

How Is Lymphoma Staged?

Staging is a way of describing how much of your body is affected by the lymphoma. That information will suggest how the disease is likely to progress and determine the best types of treatment.

Tests for staging lymphoma may include:

  • PET and CT scans or other imaging
  • Physical exam
  • Biopsies of suspicious lymph nodes or other areas
  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Spinal tap

To see how far the lymphoma has spread through the lymphatic system, other tests may be done. Typically these include a CT scan and/or a PET-CT scan. Both of these procedures provide detailed images of the areas studied.

Staging Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are staged according to the Lugano classification system, which ranges from stage 1 to stage 4.

Patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma tend to have later-stage cancer at the time of diagnosis.

Stage 1: The disease has been detected in only one group of lymph nodes above the diaphragm.

Stage 2: The disease is present in two or more groups of lymph nodes above the diaphragm.

For stages 1 and 2, if the patient has “B symptoms” — severe weight loss, soaking night sweats and fevers for no apparent reason — the letter B appears next to the stage. The letter A indicates that those symptoms are not present.

Stage 3: The disease is more widespread and is present in lymph nodes or other areas both above and below the diaphragm.

Stage 4: The disease has metastasized to one or more areas outside the lymphatic system, which is made up of lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and the spleen, thymus, tonsils and bone marrow.