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Stage III lymphoma refers to a lymphomatic cancer that has advanced and spread beyond the lymph nodes in which the cancer originated. Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes and lymph tissue. The spleen and bone marrow are also part of the lymphatic system. Lymphomas can occur anywhere in the lymphatic system, but often occur in the bone marrow or lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are found all over your body. When cancer originates in the lymphatic system, it is said to be stage I if it is local to one lymph node or one area of lymph nodes. By the time it has progressed to stage III, the cancer has begun to spread beyond the local area of the lymph system in which it was first identified. The cancer becomes much more difficult to treat in stage III, and the prognosis is not as positive for stage III patients.
There are two major types of lymphomas: Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have slightly different clinical pathologies for stage III cancer, and as a result patients diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma have a slightly different prognosis then patients diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Approximately 23 percent of patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are diagnosed with stage III lymphoma on their initial diagnosis. Thirty percent of diagnosed patients are diagnosed with stage I or stage II cancer, and in some of those patients the cancer will progress to stage III if they do not respond to treatment.
Most patients diagnosed with any stage of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, are over age 54. The National Cancer Institute suggests that the median age at diagnosis is 67, while fewer then 30 percent of cases are diagnosed in patients under 54. Although the median age of diagnosis is 67, the median age of death for patients is 75, which suggests the cancer is slow growing and that patients diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have a good chance of being alive at least eight years after their diagnosis.
Prognosis for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
The prognosis for cancer is measured in terms of five-year survival rates divided by stage. Patients who are alive five years after diagnosis may survive for longer than five years. Staging is done by looking at several factors.
Patients over the age of 60 with stage III cancer are considered to be at least "low intermediate," which means the five-year survival rates are 78 percent and the 10-year survival rates are 51 percent. Patients under the age of 60 with stage III may be considered low risk or intermediate risk, depending on other health factors. If they are considered low risk, they have a 91 percent five-year survival rate and a 71 percent ten-year survival rate.
These survival rates suggest that the prognosis for younger patients diagnosd with stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is positive, despite the advanced stage of the cancer, as long as other health factors are not present such as multiple infected lymph nodes or high levels of hemoglobin or LDL.
The prognosis for patients diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma is relatively positive. While the median age of diagnosis for patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma is 38, the median age of death is 62. These figures suggest that the cancer is either slow growing or responds well to treatment, which means that even patients diagnosed at stage III have a strong prognosis for surviving the cancer. In fact, in the United States, only .4 out of every 100,000 people die of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, based on 2002 figures provided by the National Cancer Institute.
Prognosis for Hodgkin's Lymphoma
The prognosis for stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma is also measured in terms of five-year survival rates. The American Cancer Society reports a five-year survival rate of approximately 80 percent of patients diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is a slightly lower survival rate than for patients diagnosed with stage IIII non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but is still a fairly positive prognosis for cancer patients.
Cancer Prognosis and Treatment
The prognosis of stage III lymphoma depends on a number of factors. The type of lymphoma plays a key role in determining survival statistics. Treatment methods, general health and receptiveness to treatment can all play a role in shaping your chances of surviving a diagnosis of lymphoma. Your doctor can give you a better indication of your prognosis by reviewing your test results and evaluating your response to treatment.