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Note: This section has health/medical information. It was not written by a health care professional. The major reference for this page is the following web site:
- specific lymphomas on cancer.gov, as noted in each sub-section on this page, accessed 2009
On this ped-onc site: Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer: Lymphomas
Lymphomas are malignant cell infiltrations of the lymphatic system. The lymph system includes the nodes with which of us are familiar, located in the neck, armpit, and groin. These nodes are only part of the lymph system, as they are connected to each other and to the spleen, thymus, and parts of the tonsils, stomach, and small intestine by a network of vessels. The vessels carry a colorless, watery fluid called lymph, and contains lymphocytes. Once a malignancy begins in one part of the lymph system, it often spreads throughout the rest of the system before it is detected. The different lymphomas share similar symptoms such as painless swelling of the lymph nodes, fever and fatigue.
Lymphomas, close cousins to the leukemias, are divided into many sub-groups according to cell types. Broadly, they are classified as either non-Hodgkin's and Hodgkin's. Of these two types, non-Hodgkin's (NHL) is the more common in children. About 15 types of NHL have been identified, although three of these types are the main ones which occur in children (see below). NHL in children occurs more frequently between the ages of ten and twenty than under ten. Hodgkins cases in children are rare under five years of age; in children under age 10, it is more common in boys than girls. Currently, Hodgkin's lymphoma is more curable than non-Hodgkin's.
Referenced/recommended cancer.gov link: NCI PDQ
The three types of NHL that occur most often in children are:
- lymphoblastic: Predominantly T-cell origin, sometimes hard to distinguish from leukemia; 30% of childhood NHLs.
- small noncleaved cell lymphoma (Burkitt's and non-Burkitt's): B-cell origin, cALLa; 40-50% of childhood NHLs.
- large cell lymphoma A heterogeneous group B lineage and T lineage, some are like both T and B; 20-25% of childhood NHLs.
Descriptions of NHL are given at other web sites, especially:
The author of "Mike's" pages has done excellent jobs in describing lymphomas, including details on cell classification, diagnosis, the lymph system, and statistics. Both pages focus largely on adult rather than childhood concerns, but the descriptions do cover the full age range of the disease.
- 6% of childhood cancers
- 1.0-1.5 per 100,000 children will be diagnosed with NHL
- more common in ages 10-20
- very unusual in children less than 3
- frequent malignancy in children with AIDS
- 60% with NHL will be cured
Recommended cancer.gov link: NCI PDQ
Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterized by the presence of large, binucleated cells called "Reed-Sternberg cells." The normal counterpart of these cells is not known - they are of either a B or a T lineage. Hodgkin's disease usually presents with enlarged lymph nodes. Hodgkin's has a cure rate of 75%.
Descriptions of Hodgkin's are given at NCI/cancer.gov:
The treatment for all types of lymphoma depends on type, stage, and grade of disease. The types are listed in the descriptions and the embedded links. The stages and grades are outlined below.
- I cancer site, no bone marrow involvement
- II two sites, both either above or below the diaphragm; no bone marrow involvement
- III sites above and below the diaphragm; no bone marrow involvement
- IV bone marrow is effected or the cancer cells have spread outside the lymphatic system
- B fever, weight loss or night sweats
- A absence of fever, weight loss or night sweats
- E disease has spread to organs outside the lymph system
- high: usually found in B-cell and T-cell types
- intermediate: usually found in B-cell and T-cell types
- low: predominantly found in B-cell types
Lymphomas are usually treated by a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and/or bone marrow transplants. The cure rate varies greatly depending on the type of lymphoma and the progression of the disease.
Clinical trial information:
NCI clinical trial search form. This link takes you to a form to fill out and submit for the particular type of cancer you are researching.
The following ped-onc resource lists have appropriate sections for parents of children with brain tumors:
The following web sites provide good, general information on lymphomas cancers and their treatment.
- LymphomaInfo.net - a comprehensive lymphoma site. This used to be "Mike's Lymphoma Resource Pages" but by 2011 has become a more commercial-type web site, but it still has some good information and resources.
- Cancer.gov site on NHL and lymphomas.
- Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). This a very comprehensive site. Although it focuses on adult lymphomas, the disease descriptions, staging, grades, support, and treatment sections offer invaluable information to parents of children with lymphomas. This site also keeps tabs on new treatments.
- NHL cyber family Web Site. Worth a look, good link, personal stories.
These pages are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to render medical advice. The information provided on Ped Onc Resource Center should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you suspect your child has a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.