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After non-Hodgkins lymphoma has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body.
Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to plan treatment.
The staging system used most often to describe the spread of non-Hodgkins lymphoma is called the Ann Arbor Staging System. It uses Roman numerals (I-IV) for different stages.
Stage I. The lymphoma is in one group of the body's lymph nodes, such as the groin or neck, or is in one organ outside of the lymph system.
Stage II. Two groups of lymph nodes (or one organ and a group of nearby lymph nodes) on the same side of the diaphragm contain lymphoma. The diaphragm is the muscle that divides the chest and the abdomen.
For example, lymphoma might be above the diaphragm in lymph nodes in the neck and underarms. Or lymphoma might be below the diaphragm in lymph nodes in the groin and abdomen.
Stage III. The lymphoma is in lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm. It may have also spread into a nearby organ. If found in the spleen, an "S" may be added to the stage.
Stage IV. The lymphoma is in stage IV if either of these are true:
The lymphoma is present in the bone marrow, liver, brain or spinal cord, or the pleura (thin lining of the lungs).
The lymphoma has spread throughout one organ or tissue other than the lymph nodes and has spread to lymph nodes or other organs far away from that organ.
Nodes and has spread to lymph nodes or other organs far away from that organ.
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