Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
General Information About Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma
Key Points for this Section
Childhood Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease in which malignant
(cancer) cells form in the lymph system.
Childhood Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of
cancer that develops in the lymph system, part of the body's immune system.
The lymph system is made up of the following:
- Lymph: Colorless,
watery fluid that travels through the lymph system and carries
white blood cells called
lymphocytes. Lymphocytes protect the
body against infections and the
growth of tumors.
- Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph
from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
- Lymph nodes:
Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight
infection and disease. Lymph nodes are located along the network of lymph vessels
found throughout the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm,
- Spleen: An organ
that makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys
old blood cells. The spleen is on the left side of the abdomen near the
- Thymus: An organ
in which lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the
- Tonsils: Two small
masses of lymph tissue at the
back of the throat. The tonsils make lymphocytes.
- Bone marrow: The
soft, spongy tissue in the center of large bones. Bone marrow makes white
blood cells, red blood cells, and
Anatomy of the lymph system, showing the lymph vessels and lymph organs including lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. Lymph (clear fluid) and lymphocytes travel through the lymph vessels and into the lymph nodes where the lymphocytes destroy harmful substances. The lymph enters the blood through a large vein near the heart.
Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, Hodgkin
lymphoma can start in almost any part of the body and spread to almost any
tissue or organ in the body.
Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin
lymphoma. (See the PDQ summary on Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment for more information.)
Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both children and adults; however,
treatment for children may be different than treatment for adults. (See the
PDQ summary on Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment for more information.)
There are two types of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma.
The two types of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma are:
Classical Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into four subtypes, based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope:
- Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma.
Age, gender, and Epstein-Barr virus infection can affect
the risk of developing childhood Hodgkin lymphoma.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for childhood Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:
- Being between the ages of 15 and 19. At these ages, Hodgkin lymphoma is slightly more common in girls than in boys. In
children younger than 5 years, it is more common in boys than in girls.
- Being infected with the Epstein-Barr virus.
- Having a brother or sister with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Possible signs of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma include swollen
lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
These and other symptoms may be caused by childhood Hodgkin lymphoma or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the
following problems occur:
- Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest, underarm, or groin.
- Night sweats.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Itchy skin.
Tests that examine the lymph system are used to detect (find) and diagnose
childhood Hodgkin lymphoma.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance
of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend
on the following:
- The stage of the cancer.
- The size of the tumor and how quickly it shrinks after initial treatment.
- The patient's symptoms when diagnosed.
- Certain features of the cancer cells.
- Whether the cancer is newly diagnosed, does not respond to initial treatment, or has recurred (come back).
The treatment options also depend
Most children and adolescents with newly diagnosed
Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured.