Hodgkin Disease: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)
What is a prognosis?
Prognosis is the word your healthcare team may use to talk about your chances of recovering
from cancer. It means your likely outcome from cancer and cancer treatment. A prognosis is an educated guess. It is based on other people’s experiences with the same cancer. Many people want to know their prognosis when they learn they have cancer.
A personal choice
The decision to ask about your prognosis is personal. Only you can decide how much you want to know. Some people find it easier to cope by planning ahead. They want to know their prognosis. And they want to know the statistics for how well a treatment might work. Other people find statistics confusing and frightening. Or they might think statistics are too general to be helpful.
If you do decide you want to know more, it’s best to have a doctor who is most familiar with your health discuss your prognosis with you. He or she can explain what the statistics may mean in your case. But also be aware that your prognosis can change. Cancer and cancer treatment outcomes are hard to predict. You may have a favorable prognosis. This means you’re likely going to do well. But that can change if the cancer spreads to key organs or doesn’t respond to treatment. An unfavorable prognosis can change, too. This can happen if treatment shrinks and controls the cancer so it doesn’t grow or spread.
What goes into a prognosis
Your doctor will look at all the things that could affect the cancer and its treatment. He or she will look at risk estimates about the cancer. These are based on what researchers have found out over many years about many people with Hodgkin lymphoma. When possible, your doctor will estimate your prognosis using statistics for groups of people whose cases are most like yours.
Your chance of recovery depends on many things, including:
The type of Hodgkin lymphoma you have
The stage and location of the disease
Whether you have symptoms known as B symptoms
The size of the tumor (whether it is bulky or not)
Your age (younger people tend to do better)
Your gender (women tend to have better outcomes)
Results of certain blood tests
Your general health
How your disease responds to treatment
Understanding survival rates
Survival rates show how many people live for a certain amount of time after being told they have cancer. The rates are grouped for people with certain types and stages of cancer. Many times, the numbers used refer to the 5-year or the 10-year survival rate. That’s how many people are living 5 years or 10 years after diagnosis. The survival rate includes people at these different stages:
People who are cancer-free or cured
People who have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer
People who are getting cancer treatment
Survival rates for Hodgkin lymphoma
The 5-year survival rates for Hodgkin lymphoma are:
About 90% for stage I and II disease
About 80% for stage III disease
About 65% for stage IV disease
These numbers are adjusted to account for the fact that some people may die of causes other than Hodgkin lymphoma. As noted above, factors other than the stage of the disease can also affect your prognosis. Also, many people included in the 5-year survival rate live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis.
The statistics for 5-year rates are based on people whose doctors diagnosed and treated them more than 5 years ago. For this reason, it's possible that the outlook could be better today. People diagnosed more recently often have a better outlook. That’s because of improvements in treatment.
Talking with your healthcare provider
You can ask your healthcare provider about survival rates and what you might expect. But remember that statistics are based on large groups of people. They can’t predict what will happen to you. Each person’s case is different. Treatments and how well people respond to treatment will vary.
March 21, 2017
Alteri, Rick, MD,Cunningham, Louise, RN