“The nature of the disease is that it tends to relapse,” said David Fisher, a lymphoma specialist and assistant professor of medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “How long one can live with the disease varies considerably.” …
Thompson’s cancer is an uncommon form called nodal marginal zone lymphoma, which accounts for 2 percent to 4 percent of all cases, according to Owen O’Connor, chief of the lymphoma service at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and author of about 100 research papers on the disease….
“Because this is so rare — there are about 1,500 cases per year in the U.S. — it’s hard to prognosticate,” O’Connor said in an interview. “Most of the statistics you see on the National Cancer Institute Web site are old data. It’s very hard to reach broad generalizations.”
Thompson’s doctor, Bruce Cheson, head of hematology and oncology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, told CNN in April that his patient had no evidence of the disease after being treated and that many such patients “can live a normal life span.”
“The indolent, or slow-growing lymphomas are very treatable, but rarely if ever curable,” Cheson said in the April interview. “Therefore, his likelihood of recurring is high, but this may not happen for a number of years.”
Cheson couldn’t comment further because Thompson hasn’t given permission for him to do so, Georgetown Medical School spokeswoman Marianne Worley said in a Sept. 4 interview. Thompson’s campaign representatives didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. ….
The textbook average life expectancy for all forms of non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma is six to 12 years after diagnosis. Among patients diagnosed with Stage 1, or cancer that hasn’t spread, the average 10-year survival rate is about 70 percent, Fisher said. For those diagnosed with extensive cancers, the 10-year survival rate is 36 percent. It is not known at what stage Thompson’s cancer was diagnosed.