Skip to nav Skip to content

Doctor explaining the non-hodgkin lymphoma stages

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects white blood cells in the lymphatic system. Staging non-Hodgkin lymphoma allows a patient’s medical team to properly assess the location and extent of the cancer following diagnosis and formulate an appropriate course of treatment.

The Lugano classification is most often used to stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma in adults. In this system, cancer is staged from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most advanced. Stage 1 and 2 cancers may also be described with an "E," which indicates the involvement of an extranodal organ (an organ outside of the lymphatic system).

Staging non-Hodgkin lymphoma  

Based on the results of a patient’s diagnostic tests—which may include imaging scans, labs and biopsies—non-Hodgkin lymphoma is classified as one of the following:

Stage 1

Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of cancer in a single lymph node area or lymphoid organ, or lymphoma in one organ outside of the lymph system (1E).

Stage 2

In stage 2 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the cancer is present in two or more lymph node areas on the same side of the diaphragm (above or below), or the lymphoma is in one lymph node area and a single nearby organ (2E).

Stage 3   

Stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma is defined as lymphoma that has reached both sides of the diaphragm, or lymphoma in the spleen and above the diaphragm.

Stage 4  

In stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the cancer has spread (metastasized) to organs and tissues outside of the lymph nodes, such as the lungs, bone marrow or liver.  

Some members of the medical community combine stages 3 and 4, as treatment options and prognoses tend to be similar in both stages.  

Our approach to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Patients in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Malignant Hematology Program benefit from the combined expertise of specialists who focus exclusively on complex blood cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If you’d like to consult with a Moffitt oncologist about potential lymphoma symptoms or treatment options, or to receive a second opinion, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online for a prompt response.