Many factors can affect lymphoma outlook, including the type and stage of the cancer, whether it has spread beyond the lymphatic system, and a person’s age and overall health.

Some types of lymphoma are curable, while others may require ongoing treatment to manage the condition.

This article looks at the outlook for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and some non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) subtypes.

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Many factors can affect the outlook for lymphoma. Doctors may use the International Prognostic Index (IPI), a system to help give doctors an idea of lymphoma prognosis and decide on the best treatment plan.

The IPI considers the following factors:

  • age
  • stage of lymphoma
  • whether lymphoma has spread to organs outside the lymphatic system
  • how well a person can carry out usual daily activities
  • lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels in the blood, as this increases in relation to levels of lymphoma in the body

For HL, the stage of cancer may affect the outlook, as well as the type of treatment. Within each stage, doctors look at factors that are favorable or unfavorable to the outlook.

Unfavorable factors may increase the risk of cancer returning after treatment. Unfavorable factors may include the following:

  • having bulky disease or B symptoms, which are general symptoms affecting the whole body, such as unexplained weight loss
  • being over age 45
  • being male
  • having a white blood cell count of over 15,000
  • having a low red blood cell count, with hemoglobin below 10.5
  • having a low lymphocyte count of below 600
  • having a low blood albumin level of below 4
  • having a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate

Learn more about HL here.

Some forms of NHL are curable. Other forms of NHL are treatable, and people can manage the condition with medical treatment and have a good quality of life.

In many cases, HL is curable, often after the first treatment.

For people with HL that recurs or relapses, further treatment with chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant will usually lead to curing the disease or leading to long periods of being disease-free.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), HL is one of the most curable types of cancer.

Learn about the difference between HL and NHL here.

Survival rates provide a percentage of how many people with the same condition are alive a certain number of years after receiving a diagnosis.

Survival rates are an estimate and can give people an idea of how successful treatment may be.

Survival rates consider large groups of people with the same type of disease but do not predict what may happen to each individual.

Survival rates also come from previous data, so current survival rates may be better with recent advances in research and newer treatments.

Relative survival rates for lymphoma compare people with the same type and stage of cancer with people without the condition.

For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate is 80% for people with a certain type and stage of lymphoma, it means that 80% of people with the cancer are around 80% as likely to be alive 5 years after diagnosis as people without the cancer.

The National Cancer Institute maintains the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which tracks cancer survival rates in the United States.

The SEER database provides survival rates for lymphoma using the following stages:

  • Localized: Lymphoma remains in one lymph node area, one lymphoid organ, or one organ outside of the lymphatic system.
  • Regional: Lymphoma has spread from one lymph node area to a nearby organ, is in two or more lymph node areas on one side of the diaphragm, or is considered bulky disease.
  • Distant: Lymphoma has spread outside the lymphatic system and nearby organs to a distant area, such as the lungs or lymph nodes on either side of the diaphragm.

The SEER database also provides an overall survival rate for all the stages combined.

The overall 5-year relative survival rate for NHL is 73%.

The American Cancer Society provide the following survival rates for common NHL diagnoses between 2011–2017.

Follicular lymphoma

SEER stage5-year relative survival rate
combined SEER stages90%

Learn more about follicular lymphoma here.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

SEER stage5-year relative survival rate
combined SEER stages64%

Learn more about diffuse large B cell lymphoma here.

Marginal zone lymphoma

The LLS provides the following survival rates for marginal zone lymphoma (MZL):

Type of MZL5-year survival rate
mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT)88.7%
splenic MZL79.7%
nodal MZL76.5%

Learn more about MZL here.

Mantle cell lymphoma

According to the LLS, the median progression-free period for mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is 20 months. The median overall survival rate for mantle cell lymphoma is 5–7 years.

MCL may develop resistance to treatment and may eventually progress or return after treatment. However, over recent decades, overall survival for MCL has nearly doubled.

Learn more about MCL here.

The survival rates for HL diagnoses between 2011–2017 are as follows:

SEER stage5-year relative survival rate
combined SEER stages88%

Many factors can affect lymphoma outlook, including the type and stage of lymphoma, a person’s age and overall health, and how the cancer responds to treatment.

Some types of lymphoma are curable. In other cases, treatment may help people to have a good quality of life and successfully manage the condition.