A child's cancer diagnosis can bring with it feelings of uncertainty for parents and other family members. Suddenly, you're thrust into a fast-paced world of change, worry, fear and concern. You'll need to make treatment decisions while taking the time to comfort your child - and at the same time trying to cope with your own emotions.
Your child's treatment depends on certain factors:
- the disease's stage
- the disease's subtype
- potential risk factors that may be found during lab tests
- the rate of response to treatment measured by imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) scans
Your child's oncologist (cancer specialist) should develop a treatment plan that limits the amount of therapy needed to bring about a remission. Be sure to ask the oncologist about potential side effects and long-term effects when considering treatment options. Some long-term effects, like infertility, can be serious.
Chemotherapy Drug Combinations
Children and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma are usually treated with combination chemotherapy and involved field radiation therapy. The main treatment advancement in recent times is the ability of doctors to develop treatment plans that limit the amount of therapy required to bring about remission.
Common chemotherapy drug combinations used to treat children and young adults include:
- COPP: cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®), vincristine (Oncovin®), prednisone, procarbazine (Matulane®)
- ABVD: doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), bleomycin (Blenoxane®), vinblastine (Cytoxan®), dacarbazine (DTIC-Dome®)
- COPP-ABV: Cytoxan, Oncovin, prednisone, Matulane, Adriamycin, Blenoxane, Cytoxan
- CHOP: Cytoxan, hydroxydaunomycin, Oncovin, prednisone
- Stanford V: mechlorethamine (Mustargen®), Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Oncovin, Blenoxane, etoposide, prednisone
A clinical trial may be an option when it comes to finding the right treatment for your child's cancer. Your child will have access to new or improved therapies under study and not yet on the market. Discuss with your child's doctor the possibility of taking part in a clinical trial, where treatment is administered in a safe, closely monitored environment.
Survivorship and Special Healthcare Needs
After treatment, most children can expect to have full and productive lives. Many survivors return to school, attend college, enter the workforce, marry and become parents.
You may want to consider a survivorship program for your child that focuses on life after cancer. Several major hospitals around the country offer these programs.
More to Explore
- Understanding your child's ongoing healthcare needs
- Understanding cancer treatment's effect on fertility
- Survivorship resources for children and families
- Download or order LLS's free fact sheet Choosing a Blood Cancer Specialist or Treatment Center
- Download or order LLS's free booklet Knowing All Your Treatment Options
- Download questions to ask your doctor about treatment options