Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Survival Rates and Prognosis

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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How long a person is likely to live after being diagnosed with cancer is known as prognosis. Cancer doctors estimate prognosis by using five-year survival rates. Understanding survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma is tricky. This cancer has many types, and the survival rate depends on the type. It also will depend on the cancer stage, or how advanced it is. The type of treatment can affect the prognosis too.

The life expectancy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma varies from person to person. If you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma, your survival rate depends on things like your age and your overall health. Also, keep in mind that survival rates for different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at different stages are just an estimate. What’s more, survival rates may be better five years from now thanks to new treatments.  

Survival Rates for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Considering everyone with non-Hodgkin lymphoma—all people with all types of this cancer—the overall five-year survival rate is 69%. That means about 7 of 10 people are still living five years after diagnosis. The overall 10-year survival rate is about 60%.

The most important thing to know about your specific prognosis is the type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma you have. Slow-growing cancers (indolent lymphomas) have a better prognosis. Most people with indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma will live 20 years after diagnosis. Faster-growing cancers (aggressive lymphomas) have a worse prognosis. They fall into the overall five-year survival rate of 60%.

The International Prognostic Index (IPI)

The IPI is a more specific way to predict survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It takes into consideration the stage of your cancer. Stage 1 and 2 cancers are early cancers. Stage 3 and 4 cancers are more advanced.

There's one IPI for aggressive lymphomas and most other lymphomas. To figure out your IPI for these cancers, give yourself one point for each factor below that you have:

  • Age older than 60

  • Stage 3 or 4

  • Lymphoma in more than one organ of your body outside the lymph nodes

  • Needing a lot of help with daily activities

  • Having a high level in your blood of LDH (a protein that increases with tissue damage)

Your prognosis is best if you have fewer than two points. According to the IPI, five-year survival in this group is 75%. Your prognosis is worse if you have more points. The five-year survival for people with four or more points drops to 30%.
There's another IPI for a type of indolent lymphoma called follicular lymphoma. To figure out your IPI for follicular lymphoma, give yourself one point for each factor below that you have:

  • Age older than 60

  • Stage 3 or 4

  • Lymphoma involving more than four lymph node areas

  • Blood hemoglobin level below 12 grams per deciliter

  • Having a high level of LDH in your blood

For follicular lymphomas, having fewer than two points means an estimated five-year survival of 91%, according to the index. If you have three or more points, your five-year survival is about 53%.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Life Expectancy: It's More Than a Statistic

Survival rates are just statistics. Your own survival rate may be different. Remember that survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are based on people diagnosed years ago. Five-year survival rates for people diagnosed today are probably better with the fast pace of new

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 15
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Lymphoma – Non-Hodgkin: Statistics. American Society of Clinical Oncology.
  2. General Information about Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). National Cancer Institute.
  3. Survival Rates and Factors That Affect Prognosis (Outlook) for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. American Cancer Society.