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Like all other types of cancers, lymphoma has stages of development in the human body. Lymphoma is one of the diseases classified as systemic as it affects the entire anatomical structure of the human body. What makes lymphoma different from other types of cancer is that it attacks the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are those colorless cells found in the white blood cells, the lymphoid tissues and the lymph nodes. The primary function of the lymphocytes is to strengthen the body's immune system to fight off diseases and infections. Where the cancer cells invade the lymphocytes, it hampers the same from performing its regular functions. The impairment of the lymphocytes would often mean that the person afflicted with lymphoma would be more prone to infections. In many cases, the first sign of lymphoma in a person can be detected by the person's impaired ability to fight of infections. This diminished capacity to fight off infection is coupled with swelling in the lymph nodes particularly around the neck area just above the diaphragm.

There are four stages of lymphoma is a human body. According to the Ann Arbor staging classification scheme, stage 1 lymphoma involves a single lymph node region (I) or a single extralymphatic site (Ie). Stage 2 lymphoma involves two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm (II) or of one lymph node region and contiguous extralymphatic site (IIe). Stage 1 and 2 lymphoma have good prognosis depending on the age of the patient, the size of the mediastinal mass and the number of lymph node involved. Favorable prognosis is usually given where the patient is still in still below the age of
50 and there are less those four nodes involved. Where a favorable prognosis is given to the patient, this usually means that the cancer can still be eradicated with a lesser degree of invasive treatment. Note that cancer treatments are mostly invasive however, the degree of invasiveness varies depending on the circumstances present.

On the other hand, where the patient is already above 50, has elevated ESR, has large mediastinal mass and there are more than four lymph node regions affected by the cancer, this situation will warrant an unfavorable prognosis. Where the prognosis is unfavorable, the cancer management team may recommend that the patient undergo a more aggressive treatment like chemotherapy. There are other options of course other than chemotherapy depending on the type of lymphoma you may have. There are more than 30 types of lymphoma and each type has different characteristics and behavior. As there is a marked difference in the characteristics and behaviors of each type of lymphoma, different treatments are often offered for each type of lymphoma. That is the reason why it is very important to correct diagnoses the type of lymphoma that the patient have before starting any type of treatment.

Advanced stages of lymphoma are classified as stage 3 and 4. Stage 3 lymphoma means lymph node regions on both sides of the diaphragm are effected. The area affected in this stage includes the spleen (III) and /or limited contiguous extralymphatic organ or site (IIIe, IIIes). On the other hand, stage 4 lymphoma involves one or more extralymphatic organs. Stage 3 and 4 lymphoma requires more aggressive treatment.

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