Castleman Disease

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

How is Castleman disease staged?

When talking about cancer, the stage is a description of how far it has spread. The stage helps doctors determine the best treatment and the likely outlook (prognosis) for the patient. Most cancers have a formal staging system that lets doctors sum up the extent of the cancer.

Since Castleman disease (CD) is not a cancer, it doesn’t have a formal staging system. Instead, doctors use other important pieces of information to help decide on the best treatment and to give them an idea of how well a patient might do.

The most important factor when deciding on treatment is whether the CD is localized/unicentric or multicentric. Localized/unicentric CD affects only a single lymph node (or lymph node group). The multicentric type affects 2 or more groups of lymph nodes in different parts of the body. It may also affect internal organs like the spleen or liver. Tests are done to see what lymph nodes and organs are affected to learn which type of CD a patient has. These tests often include some of the imaging tests mentioned in the section “How is Castleman disease diagnosed?” such as a chest x-ray and either a CT scan or MRI of the chest and abdomen.

Another factor is the microscopic subtype of the CD, which is a description of the patterns of cells seen under the microscope in the biopsy sample. These subtypes are described in the section “What is Castleman disease?

A third important factor is whether or not the patient is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Just about all people infected with HIV who develop CD will have the multicentric form of the disease.


Last Medical Review: 07/07/2014
Last Revised: 07/07/2014