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Cancer Health Center

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Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma


Subclassification of stage

Stages I, II, III, and IV adult HL can be subclassified into A and B categories: B for those with defined general symptoms and A for those without B symptoms. The B designation is given to patients with any of the following symptoms:

The most significant B symptoms are fevers and weight loss. Night sweats alone do not confer an adverse prognosis. Pruritus as a systemic symptom remains controversial and is not considered a B symptom in the Ann Arbor staging system. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Pruritus for more information.) This symptom is hard to define quantitatively and uniformly, but when it is recurrent, generalized, and otherwise unexplained, and when it ebbs and flows parallel to disease activity, it may be the equivalent of a B symptom.

The designation E is used when well-localized extranodal lymphoid malignancies arise in or extend to tissues beyond, but near, the major lymphatic aggregates. Stage IV refers to disease that is diffusely spread throughout an extranodal site, such as the liver. If pathologic proof of involvement of one or more extralymphatic sites has been documented, the symbol for the site of involvement, followed by a plus sign (+), is listed.

Table 1. Notations for Identifying Sites

N = nodesH = liverL = lungM = bone marrow
S = spleenP = pleuraO = boneD = skin

Current practice is to assign a clinical stage (CS) based on the findings of the clinical evaluation and a pathologic stage (PS) based on the findings of invasive procedures.

For example, a patient who has disease in the chest and neck, systemic symptoms, and a negative lymphangiogram might be found at laparotomy to have involvement of the spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Thus, the precise stage of such a patient would be CS IIB, PS IVB (S+)(H+)(M+).

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) has designated staging using the Ann Arbor classification system to define adult Hodgkin lymphoma.[15]

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