Survival statistics for non Hodgkin lymphoma | Cancer Research UK
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Statistics and outlook for non Hodgkin lymphoma

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. The likely outcome of non Hodgkin lymphoma depends partly on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). But the type of lymphoma and whether your lymphoma is low grade (indolent) or high grade (aggressive) is also very important.

The statistics are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.

The information further down the page is quite detailed. We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. Remember that you can skip this page if you don't want to read it. You can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. Many individual factors affect your treatment and your outlook. Outcomes for patients with most types of lymphoma have improved steadily over time. Because of the way they are collected statistics tend to show these improvements some years later.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating NHL section.

 

 

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma survival

Find out about survival for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. So, if you aren’t sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with NHL. It depends on your individual situation, treatment and level of fitness.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

 

Survival for low grade lymphomas

Low grade lymphomas can be difficult to clear completely. But they can be kept under control for several years.

Below is information about survival for 2 types of low grade lymphoma.

  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Marginal Zone lymphoma

There are no UK-wide survival statistics available for the different types and stages of NHL.

Survival statistics are available for each stage of follicular and marginal zone lymphoma in one area of England. These are for people diagnosed between 2004 and 2011.

Follicular lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of low grade lymphoma.  

Stage 1

Around 90 out of every 100 people (around 90%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 2

Almost 90 out of 100 people (almost 90%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 3 and stage 4

Almost 80 out of 100 people (almost 80%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Doctors use a scale to help them plan treatment. It is called the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI). It has 5 factors, called prognostic factors, that doctors use to predict how people may respond to treatment. These 5 factors are

  • Being older than 60 years.
  • Having stage 3 or 4 follicular lymphoma.
  • Having a low red blood cell (haemoglobin) level.
  • Having more than 4 areas of lymph nodes affected with lymphoma.
  • A higher than normal blood level of an enzyme called  LDH (serum lactate dehydrogenase).

If you have no poor prognostic factors you have a score of 0. People with all of the poor prognostic factors have a score of 5. The doctor uses this score to divide people with follicular lymphoma into 3 groups

  • Low risk, if you have no or 1 poor prognostic factor.
  • Intermediate (moderate) risk,  if you have 2 poor prognostic factors.
  • High risk, if you have 3 or more poor prognostic factors.

A large 2004 French trial looked at the 5 and 10 year survival for these 3 risk groups 

For people in the low risk group

  • around 90 out of every 100 people (around 90%) survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 70 out of every 100 people (around 70%)  survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis

For people in the intermediate risk group

  • almost 80 out of every 100 people (almost 80%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis 
  • around 50 out of every 100 people (around 50%) survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis

For people in the high risk group

  • more than 50 out of every 100 people (more than 50%) survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 35 out of every 100 (around 35%) survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis

Marginal zone lymphoma

Marginal zone lymphomas are slow growing B cell lymphomas. 

Stage 1

Around 80 out of 100 people (around 80%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis

Stage 2

75 out of 100 people (75%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 3

More than 50 out of 100 people (more than 50%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 4

Around 65 out of 100 people (around 65%) will survive for 5 years of more after their diagnosis. 

There are different type of marginal zone lymphomas. These are 

  • Extranodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (also known as mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma)
  • Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma
  • Splenic marginal zone B-cell lymphoma

Extranodal marginal zone B-cell lymphomas have a slightly better outcome than the other types. Almost 90 out of 100 people with this type of marginal zone lymphoma (90%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Read more about the types of non Hodgkin lymphoma and the stages of non Hodgkin lymphoma

 

Survival for high grade lymphomas

High grade (aggressive) lymphomas generally need more intensive treatment than the low grade types. But they often respond well to treatment. Many people are cured. The most common type of high grade lymphoma is diffuse large B cell lymphoma.  

There are no UK-wide survival statistics available for the different types and stages of NHL.

Survival statistics are available for each stage of diffuse B cell lymphoma in one area of England. These are for people diagnosed between 2004 and 2011. 

Stage 1

Around 65 out of 100 people (around 65%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Stage 2

Around 70 out of 100 people (around 70%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 3

Over 50 out of 100 people (over 50%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4

Almost 50 out of 100 people (almost 50%) will survive for 5 years or more after their diagnosis. 

Burkitt's lymphoma is a less common type of high grade lymphoma which can grow quite quickly. We don't have statistics for the different stages of Burkitt's lymphoma. But overall, almost 60 out of 100 people with Burkitt's lymphoma (almost 60%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

 

Survival for all non Hodgkin lymphoma

Generally for people with non Hodgkin lymphoma in England and Wales

  • about 80 out of every 100 people (about 80%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 70 out of every 100 people (around 70%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • almost 65 out of every 100 people (almost 65%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after they are diagnosed
 

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the lymphoma when it was diagnosed. This means whether it has spread.

The type and grade of NHL also affects your likely survival. Grade is very important. It means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. Low grade lymphomas tend to grow slower than high grade lymphomas. 

A number of other factors affect your outlook. For diffuse large B cell lymphoma, doctors group these factors together to make a prognostic index. A prognostic index is a way of trying to decide who has a greater risk of their lymphoma coming back after treatment. This scale is only for people with diffuse large B cell lymphomas not low grade lymphomas.

To work out the prognostic index, you score one point for each of the following:

  • Aged over 60
  • Stage 3 or 4 lymphoma at diagnosis
  • A higher than normal blood level of an enzyme called LDH (lactate dehydrogenase)
  • Performance status of more than 2 (see below)
  • NHL in more than one site outside your lymphatic system, for example, in your bones

Performance status is a scoring system that describes how well you are and how much you can look after yourself. 0 means you are fully active and well. If you need to stay in bed or a chair for more than half the day and need a lot of help to look after yourself, your performance status will be more than 2.

If you have no poor prognostic factors you have a score of 0. People with all of the poor prognostic factors have a score of 5. 

  • A score of 0 or 1 means you are more likely to respond well to treatment, and your lymphoma is unlikely to come back.
  • A score of 2 means you are at moderately low risk of your lymphoma coming back.
  • A score of 3 means you have a moderately high risk of the lymphoma coming back
  • A score of 4 or 5 means you are at a higher than average risk of not responding to treatment, or of having your lymphoma come back after treatment.

This prognostic index was created before doctors used rituximab to treat lymphoma. Rituximab may lower the risk of lymphoma coming back. So this may affect the prognostic index in the future.

 

About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

Some survival statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival. On this page, the statistics for 1, 5 and 10 year survival for all NHL, and the figures for Burkitt's lymphoma are for relative survival. 

 

Clinical trials

Clinical trials have made a great difference to the treatment and prognosis of both low grade and high grade lymphomas. Trials of combination chemotherapy have improved response rates for high grade lymphomas. Now, trials are investigating combining these standard treatments with newer treatments such as biological therapies. New treatments such as monoclonal antibody therapy (a type of biological therapy) are increasing the survival time for low grade lymphomas.

If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial for lymphoma, go to our clinical trials database. If you would like to know more about clinical trials, look at our about clinical trials section.

lymphoma treatment

 

More detailed statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for NHL, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

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Updated: 17 June 2015