Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin - Childhood: Stages

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe the growth or spread of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages.


What is cancer staging?

Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.

Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out the cancer's stage, so staging may not be complete until all the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor recommend the best kind of treatment, and it can help predict a child's prognosis, which is the chance of recovery. There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer.

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Stage I

The cancer is in only 1 area, either above or below the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the large breathing muscle that separates the chest and abdomen.

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Stage II

The tumor may occur in 1 area and surrounding lymph nodes, or it may be found in 2 or more lymph nodes or other areas on the same side of the diaphragm.

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Stage III

Any of these 4 situations applies:

  • Cancer occurs in tissue or lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm.

  • Cancer occurs in the chest (mediastinum).

  • Cancer occurs in the abdomen and cannot be completely removed with surgery.

  • Cancer is found in the area around the spine.

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Stage IV

The cancer is found in the bone marrow, spinal cord, and/or brain.

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Recurrent NHL is lymphoma that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.

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Source: National Cancer Institute.

Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Types of Treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.