Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is just one of 50-60 known B-cell subtypes of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and it generally does not have a good prognosis. It is a very rare disease, affecting no more than about 4,000 people (generally men and generally older than 60) in the US every year. This is the equivalent of about 5% of all non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnoses made annually.
Mantle cell lymphoma is poorly understood by the medical community, largely because it was only recognized as a legitimately unique B-cell NHL subtype twenty years ago. In that time, a wide variety of treatments—including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell transplantations, and immunotherapy—have been applied to patients with mantle cell lymphoma, with varying results, none of them especially convincing or leading to much enthusiasm in the research community.
The life expectancy for any patient receiving a diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma will vary widely, depending on various factors ranging from age and health status, to stage of the disease at diagnosis and whether the patient has so-called B symptoms or not. The problem is that in many instances, and following virtually all modes of treatment, the disease is extremely prone to returning; relapse in is very common, and when relapse occurs, the relapsed disease has all too commonly become chemo-resistant as well.
Thus, while it is impossible to say how long any one individual patient will survive following a diagnosis of mantle cell lmyphoma, currently the life expectancy is cited as being in the range of four to five years following diagosis, according to researchers at the John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.