It may sound harsh to ask the question, “Can I survive this?” But it’s a natural question when you are facing lymphoma. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer.
Your chance of recovery depends on a number of things.
The type and location of the lymphoma
How quickly it is likely to grow and spread
Your age and general health
How you respond to treatment
If you want to know about your prognosis, your doctor will consider all the things that could affect your disease and treatment. Your doctor will then predict what seems likely to happen. To do that, the doctor looks at what researchers have found out over many years about thousands of people with lymphoma. When possible, the doctor uses statistics for groups of people whose situations are most like yours to make a prediction. In the case of lymphoma, looking at statistics for the subtype of lymphoma is most helpful. There are many different types of lymphoma, each with a different prognosis.
If your lymphoma is likely to respond well to treatment, your doctor will say you have a favorable prognosis. If the lymphoma is likely to be hard to control, your prognosis may be unfavorable. It is important to keep in mind, though, that a prognosis states what is probable. It is not a prediction of what will happen. No doctor can be absolutely certain about the outcome.
Some people find it easier to cope when they know their prognosis and the statistics for how well a treatment might work. Other people find statistical information confusing and frightening. Or they might think it is too general to be useful. The doctor who is most familiar with your situation is in the best position to discuss your prognosis with you and explain what the statistics may mean for you if this is something you want to know about. At the same time, you should keep in mind that a person’s prognosis may change. A favorable prognosis can change if the lymphoma progresses. An unfavorable one can change if treatment is successful. The decision to ask about your prognosis is a personal one. It is up to you to decide how much you want to know.
Survival rates show the percentage of people with a certain type and stage of lymphoma who survive the disease for a certain period of time after they are diagnosed. A 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are alive 5 years after they are diagnosed. These are the people it includes.
Those who are free of disease (there are no signs of lymphoma)
Those who have few or no signs or symptoms of lymphoma
Those who are being treated for lymphoma
Many people included in the 5-year survival rate live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis. Also, because the statistic is based on people diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago, it’s possible that the outlook could be better today. People who are newly diagnosed often have a more favorable outlook. That’s because of improvements in treatment.
Survival rates are based on large groups of people. They cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular person. No two people are exactly alike. Treatment and responses to treatment vary greatly.
© 2013 Main Line Health