At Children’s Health, we see children with all types of lymphoma and can provide treatment at each stage of the disease. By collaborating with a specialized team of radiation specialists, surgeons and oncologists, we’re proud to offer the latest treatments – including leading-edge clinical trials – for your child.
What is Pediatric Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a group of tissues and organs that help the body get rid of toxins. It is a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells are part of your lymphatic system, which helps defend your body against infections.
What are the different types of Pediatric Lymphoma?
There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s. We treat all types and stages of both types.
Doctors diagnose Hodgkin’s lymphoma by looking for a specific cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell. Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects kids and teens more often than non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It typically begins in the neck, chest or other places in the upper body. These cancers are typically caught early and are very treatable.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma includes all lymphomas where there is no Reed-Sternberg cell in the cancerous tissue. This includes Burkitt lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. This cancer is rare in kids and teens, but more common in adults.
What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Lymphoma?
An enlarged lymph node, or bump in the neck or clavicle that doesn’t go away, are the biggest signs of lymphoma in a child. Kids may also experience:
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
How is Pediatric Lymphoma diagnosed?
Typically, pediatric lymphoma is diagnosed with a biopsy (a procedure where your child’s doctor removes a few cells from the tumor to be examined by a laboratory). Depending on the type of lymphoma, we might also do the following:
- CT (computerized tomography) scan: Similar to an X-ray, this test can detect lymphoma in the abdomen, pelvis, chest, head and neck.
- PET (positron emission tomography) scan: This scan shows doctors if your child has cancer cells in their body or if the tumors are still growing.
- Bone marrow biopsy: If we suspect your child has lymphoma in their blood or bone marrow, we take a sample to learn more.
- Lumbar puncture: Also known as a “spinal tap,” we can see if there’s any lymphoma in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is important because it protects the brain and spinal cord.
What causes Pediatric Lymphoma?
Like most childhood cancers, scientists don’t know what causes lymphoma. There’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent your child from getting this cancer.
How is Pediatric Lymphoma treated?
Lymphoma is very treatable and cure rates are high for many types of lymphoma. At Children's Health℠, we’ll create a customized treatment plan for your child. This plan may include chemotherapy or radiation. It may also include CAR-T cell therapy, where we’ll program your child’s T cells (which play an important role in the immune system) to attack the lymphoma.
Our team has worked with experts around the world to develop the best possible treatments for childhood cancer. We use the same protocols and standards you’d find at other leading hospitals and offer access to clinical trials of innovative treatments.
We treat this cancer with chemotherapy and sometimes, radiation. The goal is to give enough therapy to cure the lymphoma with as few side effects as possible. After chemotherapy, we’ll do a PET scan, to see if this medicine has eliminated the cancer cells. Some children may need additional radiation therapy, while others will only need chemotherapy.
We typically treat all types of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with chemotherapy. In most cases, we don’t use radiation for these cancers.
Some children’s lymphomas relapse, which means it comes back after their initial treatment. Our team is working to create the next generation of therapies to create more options for these kids and take out their cancers for good. We may use a combination of chemotherapies to target relapsed lymphomas. We may also use CAR T-cell therapy.