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Staging is the process of finding out how widespread the cancer is. Staging is based on the results of the physical exam, biopsies, and imaging tests (CT scan, PET scan, etc.). The treatment and outlook for a child with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) depend both on the exact type of lymphoma and the stage of the disease.

The staging system most often used to describe NHL in children is called the St. Jude staging system. This is different from the staging system used for lymphomas in adults (the Ann Arbor staging system).

Stages are labeled using Roman numerals I through IV (1-4). As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. Most of the time stage I and II lymphomas are called limited-stage disease and are treated the same way. Stage III and IV lymphomas are usually thought of as advanced-stage disease and are treated alike.

After looking at the test results, the doctor will tell you the stage of your child’s NHL. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the stage in a way you understand. This will help you both decide on the best treatment for your child.

Last Medical Review: 10/30/2012
Last Revised: 10/30/2012