Hodgkin lymphoma in children

Definition

Hodgkin lymphoma is cancer of lymph tissue. Lymph tissue is found in the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, liver, bone marrow, and other organs of the immune system. The immune system protects us against diseases and infections.

This article is about classical Hodgkin lymphoma in children, the most common type.

Causes

In children, Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to occur between ages 15 to 19 years. The cause of this type of cancer is unknown. But, certain factors may play a role in Hodgkin lymphoma in children. These factors include:

Common early childhood infections also may increase the risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will take your child's medical history. The provider will do a physical exam to check for swollen lymph nodes.

The provider may perform these lab tests when Hodgkin disease is suspected:

A lymph node biopsy confirms the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.

If a biopsy shows that your child has lymphoma, more tests will be done to find out how far the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up.

Immunophenotyping is a laboratory test used to identify cells, based on the types of antigens or markers on the surface of the cell. This test is used to diagnose the specific type of lymphoma by comparing the cancer cells to normal cells of the immune system.

Treatment

You may choose to seek care at a children's cancer center.

Treatment will depend on the risk group your child falls into. Other factors that will be considered include:

Your child's lymphoma will be grouped as low-risk, intermediate-risk, or high-risk based on:

Chemotherapy is most often the first treatment.

Your child may also receive radiation therapy using high-powered x-rays at cancer-affected areas.

Other treatments may include:

Having a child with cancer is one of the hardest things you will ever deal with as a parent. Explaining what it means to have cancer to your child will not be easy. You will also need to learn how to get help and support so you can cope more easily.

Support Groups

Having a child with cancer can be stressful. Joining a support group where other parents or families share common experiences may help ease your stress.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Hodgkin lymphoma is curable in most cases. Even if this form of cancer returns, chances of a cure are good.

Your child will need to have regular exams and imaging tests for years after treatment. This will help the provider check for signs of the cancer returning and for any long-term treatment effects.

Possible Complications

Treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma may have complications. Side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy may appear months or years after treatment. These are called "late effects." It is important to talk about treatment effects with your health care team. What to expect in terms of late effects depends on the specific treatments your child receives. The concern of late effects must be balanced by the need to treat and cure the cancer.

Continue to follow up with your child's doctor to monitor and help prevent these complications.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if your child has swollen lymph nodes with a fever that stays for a long time or has other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma. Call your child's provider if your child has Hodgkin lymphoma and has side effects from the treatment.


Review Date: 7/26/2018
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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