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Survival Statistics

Posts: 12
Joined: May 2012

I was diagnosed with nodal marginal zone lymphoma last year. Both Oncologists I am seeing tell me I have a chronic condition that is not curable but is treatable. I've seen several different survival statistics and wonder which ones are the most current????

Avantgardener's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Apr 2012

Boy, they sure are cagey about that one, aren't they? I've yet to get a single one of my doctors (3 hematologist/oncologists, and 2 rheumatologists) to give me a straight answer on what a reasonable prognosis might be for my condition, and I am not shy about asking questions. Every time I ask about this the doctor seems to develop a sudden interest in the ceiling...won't make eye contact...I'm not asking for guarantees, only a "best guess". Frustrating. I think they are all so afraid of litigation that they don't want to put themselves out there, and part of me says that you can't blame them for that. Also, each person is of course different, and it's hard to come up with a box that everyone fits into.

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5 year survival rate for MLZ is 91.6% for patients who were under 45 years old at the time of diagnosis. Here is a link to a study showing that the median progression-free survival duration of advanced stage marginal zone lymphoma patients was around 2-5 years, but that more that 80% survived for 10 years:


The World Health Organization also publishes prognostic tables that weigh the various risk factors and produce a projected survival expectancy as a result. In my case they don't apply, because I have an autoimmune disorder on top of the lymphoma that essentially means all bets are off, but you can look it up and see what your own doctor thinks.

Remember that more than 25% of patients with with indolent lymphomas - which yours is - have stage 3 or 4 disease, because by definition lymphoma is in your lymphatic system and therefore has spread throughout your body. It's often asymptomatic (mine was) until it's in an advanced state. This is not the same as solid tumor cancer, and a stage 3 or 4 diagnosis isn't a death sentence, as it might be with, say, breast cancer.

Indolent lymphomas are not curable, but they are manageable. The median survival rate, based on what I've read (I am NOT a medical professional) is about 10 years. Most lymphoma patients who undergo chemotherapy go into remission fairly readily, but ultimately relapse and/or develop a more aggressive type of lymphoma. As long as the lymphoma remains indolent, re-treatment with various types of chemotherapy is effective. Many patients live with this disease for years.

I hope this is helpful, even though it does not exactly answer your question in the way that I know you were hoping for.


Posts: 1121
Joined: Nov 2011

I was supposed to be gone by the end of 2008. After relapse, I was supposed to be gone by mid-2009. As we see from the most recent statistics, survival rates are on an upward climb. Any statistic that is published is essentially an outdated snapshot of a dynamic situation - that is, not currently accurate. I would not focus on the numbers, but on remaining healthy and living your life each day so as to enjoy each day that you are granted. We do not know of we will wake up tomorrow morning, I wonder what good it is to look that far ahead?

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Hey ROF,

I tend to agree with "you are your own survival statistic".
I've learned to take everything I read with a grain of salt and for the most
part during treatment, I did my best to avoid focusing on survival statistics
and other "numbers" or anything that would put me in a negative thought

Don't misunderstand, I didn't bury my head in the sand but I believe your mental
attitude toward this challenge/battle is part of the weaponry against it. As I've
often said, "Attitude and humor are free weapons in this battle". As frightening as all
of this has been and is, I am so grateful for many things and I can still laugh
in the face of my enemy ;).

Be good to yourself and others.

Hugs and positive thoughts,

DX: DLBL 4/2011, Chemo completed 10/2011, currently in remission. :)

Posts: 1121
Joined: Nov 2011

My "poor" prognosis dropped to "very poor" when I relapsed within 6 months of chemo. Since my relapse was immediate, it may be that my disease was more refractory in nature. Yet, I am at the three year mark with no evidence of the Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma/NOS which is normally difficult to defeat. It appears that, with a good attitude and a good medical team, your life span will generally be longer. It is a statistical fact that a few of those with easily treatable and curable cancers still expire.

COBRA666's picture
Posts: 2413
Joined: May 2010

I hate to be short about this,but stay away from the those statistical websites. They will have you bouncing off the walls and have you so confused. John

COBRA666's picture
Posts: 2413
Joined: May 2010

Amazing what a little cow S#!t will do. LOL

Pammyt's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2018

How are you doing rof? I just got the same diagnosis 

Posts: 12
Joined: May 2012

Still around.   Went through almost 2 years of maintenance, but had to  stop when my immuglobins crashed.  They never have recovered but I don’t seem to miss them.  My original oncologist retired and the new one is competent but abrupt.  Last blood test showed a small “m-spike”.  She said it probably means either the NMZL is back or it could be multiple myeloma.  Before I could ask a question she was packing up and heading to the door.  When she got to the door she said see you in 6 months.

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