The survival rate of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is generally lower than that of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but it’s still often curable.
Lymphoma is a group of more than 70 cancers that start in the lymph system. The two main subcategories are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Doctors differentiate them based on how cancer cells look under a microscope.
The American Cancer Society reports an overall 5-year relative survival rate for lymphoma of
Read on to learn more about the short- and long-term outlook for people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes more than 60 types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are often curable with proper treatment. Doctors may consider the cancer cured if you’re in complete remission for
Remission is when the signs and symptoms of your cancer are reduced. If they go away completely, doctors consider you in complete remission.
Most cancers that return do so within 5 years. Your doctor may be reluctant to use the term “cured” because even if you’ve been in complete remission for more than 5 years, there’s a small chance the cancer will come back.
Lymphomas are classified as “aggressive” if they’re expected to progress quickly and “indolent” if they’re slow-growing.
People with indolent lymphomas generally have a better outlook. The most common type of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The most common indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is follicular lymphoma.
The 5-year relative overall survival of DLBCL is 73 percent, and it’s 96 percent for follicular lymphoma, states the
After you receive a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your oncology team can help you develop a treatment plan.
Undergoing cancer treatment can be difficult for you and your family. Many people face problems such as:
- physical impairments
- financial difficulties
In the study, survivors of aggressive lymphoma experienced more fatigue, shortness of breath, insomnia, and appetite loss. But at a follow-up an average of 4 years later, there was no difference between the groups.
In another 2018 study, researchers found that the quality of life of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors may improve comparably to the quality of life of the general population with longer survival, mostly due to physical improvements.
Doctors often use 5-year survival rates to estimate the chances of survival from a cancer. For example, a 5-year survival rate of 70 percent means 70 percent of people with a certain cancer are expected to be alive 5 years later.
Relative 5-year overall survival rate is also commonly used. A relative 5-year survival rate compares the number of people still alive with a certain cancer to the number people without the cancer to isolate deaths directly caused by the disease.
For example, a relative 5-year overall survival rate of 70 percent means a person with a certain cancer has a 70 percent chance of being alive 5 years later compared with a person without the cancer.
Survival rates are sometimes reported for other intervals, such as 1, 3, 10, and 15 years.
5-year survival rate
According to the National Cancer Institute’s
|Relative 5-year survival rate
10-year survival rate
|Relative 10-year survival rate
|stage 1 or 2
|stage 3 or 4
|lymphoma in 1 or no areas outside lymph nodes
|lymphoma in more than 1 organ outside of lymph nodes
|normal daily function
|need significant help with daily activities
|Serum lactate dehydrogenase
Your outlook also depends on your overall health and the specific type of lymphoma you have.
Does treatment type affect outlook?
The outlook for people with lymphoma has improved in recent years, largely due to improvements in treatments like
For example, the 1-year relative survival rate of non-Hodgkin’s’ lymphoma in 2000 was
A large reason why younger people and people in better health generally have a better outlook is that they can handle more chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but side effects become more likely at higher doses.
Your oncology team can help recommend the best treatment for you.
Life expectancy statistics can give you a general idea of what to expect, but it’s important to talk with your oncology team to get an individualized outlook.
Life expectancy statistics don’t consider individual factors that influence your response to treatment, like your age and overall health.
Actual chances of survival are often higher than life expectancy statistics suggest. Generally, statistics are updated about every 5 years, but treatment may improve over this time frame.
The outlook for people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma isn’t generally as good as that of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but it still has a better outlook than many other cancers. More than 70 percent of people live longer than 5 years after their diagnosis.
Your outlook depends on factors such as your overall health, age, and the type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma you have. Your healthcare team can give you the best idea of what to expect.