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Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Because of new and better therapies, cancer survival rates for children have improved dramatically during the last several decades. Scientists continue to search for the causes of childhood lymphoma so they can develop better treatments with less toxic side effects.         

  • To access information about coping with childhood cancer, click here.
  • Click here for childhood NHL statistics.

Click on the links below for more information about childhood Hodgkin lymphoma:


Caring for Kids and Adolescents with Blood Cancer: A Workbook for Families

Download or order a copy of the workbook which provides information, resources and worksheets to use throughout your child's cancer journey. Call an Information Specialist at 800.955.4572 to order a copy. 


Treatment

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.

Children and adolescents with NHL should be referred to medical centers that have a specialized pediatric oncology team to ensure that young patients receive optimal treatment, support and follow-up care. Young adults and parents of children diagnosed with NHL should talk to members of the oncology team about the stage and the specific subtype of NHL. Doctors use this information about the patient’s disease in order to determine the most effective therapy. It is also important to discuss the planned therapy with members of the oncology team to learn about the drugs, potential side effects and long-term effects and the treatment schedule.

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. Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free fact sheet Fertility Facts.

Children with NHL may sometimes be treated differently than adults. Choosing the most effective therapy for adolescents and young adults can be challenging and is a topic of ongoing research. Pediatric treatment strategies are used to treat adults who have certain subtypes of NHL, including Burkitt lymphoma and lymphoblastic lymphoma. Adolescents and young adults should consider being evaluated and treated in a pediatric oncology setting or with a pediatric protocol as part of a clinical trial. With current treatments, NHL in most children is highly curable. The results depend on achieving a precise diagnosis thorough staging of the disease and using complex multidrug treatments.

Clinical Trials

clinical trial may be an option when it comes to finding the right treatment for your child's cancer. Clinical trials for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially more effective therapy with therapy that's currently accepted as standard. Your child may have access to new or improved therapies under study that are 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.


Receive one-on-one navigation from an LLS Clinical Trial Specialist who will personally assist you throughout the entire clinical-trial process: Click Here


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.

Follow-Up Care

Your child should visit his or her pediatrician or primary care physician at least once a year for a complete physical exam and any additional needed tests. Your child should also be regularly examined by an oncologist.

Regular doctor visits are encouraged to:

  • Enable doctors to assess the full effect of therapy
  • Detect and treat disease recurrence
  • Identify and manage long-term and late effects of treatment

Your pediatrician should recommend a schedule for having your child's learning skills assessed. If your child appears to be experiencing learning disabilities, special education methods can help.

Long-Term and Late Effects of Treatment

Some side effects of cancer treatment, such as fatigue, can linger for months or years after therapy. Some medical conditions like heart disease and other cancers may not appear until years after treatment ends. Long-term and late effects can affect your child's physical, mental and cognitive (brain function) health.

Most childhood survivors of lymphoma don't develop significant long-term or late effects of treatment. However, for some patients the effects can range from mild to severe.

Long-Term and Late Effects of Chemotherapy

Children treated for lymphoma may be at increased risk for:

  • Fatigue
  • Growth delays
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hearing loss
  • A secondary cancer

Some long-term and late effects may become evident as the child grows and matures. Early intervention and healthy lifestyle practices (not smoking, good nutrition, exercise, regular screenings and follow-up) may have a positive effect on the occurrence and/or severity of effects.

Long-Term and Late Effects of Radiation Therapy

Children who receive radiation therapy to the chest are at an increased risk of breast caner later in life. Patients who received radiation therapy to the chest (mediastinal) area should:

  • Perform monthly self-breast exams
  • Have an annual clinical breast exam performed by a healthcare provider at least once a year until age 25 and then every 6 months after 
  • Have a yearly mammogram starting at age 25 or 8 years after treatment (whichever comes last) 

Both girls and boys who've undergone mediastinal radiation therapy should have baseline testing for heart function. This should be followed by testing every three to five years after treatment or more regularly if any abnormalities are found.

Returning to School

Learning disabilities can begin during treatment or appear months or years after. Educate family members, friends, school personnel and healthcare providers about your child's possible long-term and late effects of treatment. Talk with teachers about your child's needs before he or she returns to school. Work with your child's teachers and medical providers to develop a program tailored to his or her needs that features baseline testing, special accommodations and long-term planning.

Click here to read about children with cancer returning to school.


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