Lymphoblastic lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, and functions to fight disease and infections. Most cases of lymphoblastic lymphoma involve the T-cells in the thymus, and usually become evident with a mass in the chest and swollen lymph nodes.
Children with lymphoblastic lymphoma are treated through the Lymphoma Program (part of the Hematologic Malignancy Center) at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Our multidisciplinary approach to care ensures thoughtful discussion of every treatment decision and individualized care plans for each patient. Our team integrates expertise from the following specialists:
What causes lymphoblastic lymphoma?
The specific cause of non-Hodgkis lymphoma is unclear. Some theories include:
Is lymphoblastic lymphoma common?
Lymphoblastic lymphoma accounts for about 35 percent of lymphomas in children. It's most common in teenagers; boys are affected twice as often as girls. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a group is the third most common childhood cancer. More specifically, non-Hodgkin lymphoma:
What are the symptoms of lymphoblastic lymphoma?
The disease can progress quickly from a few days to a few weeks. Your child can go from otherwise healthy to having multi-system involvement in a short time period. While symptoms may vary child-to-child, the most common include:
How does a doctor diagnose lymphoblastic lymphoma?
Diagnostic procedures for lymphoblastic lymphoma are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread. These may include a:
Treatments for lymphoblastic lymphoma may involve a combination of therapies including:
Surgery usually plays a limited role in the treatment of lymphoma. In some instances, a child may need to have a tumor removed. This may be the case if, for example, the tumor compresses the airway and/or the heart and major vessels. Surgery in this area may entail considerable risk, and must be carefully orchestrated between the surgeon, oncologist and anesthesiologist.
Our doctors use precisely targeted and dosed radiation therapy to kill cancer cells left behind after your child's surgery.
Chemotherapy is a drug that interferes with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring, if possible.
Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given:
Our treatment includes therapies to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments, and complications, and to keep your child comfortable during treatment.
After treatment is over, children treated for lymphoblastic lymphoma should visit a pediatric cancer survivorship clinic every year to:
A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:
Through the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team.