Learning that your child has lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, is a scary and life-altering experience for a parent. But there is cause for hope: Lymphoma is a very treatable form of cancer. More than 95 percent of children treated for Hodgkin lymphoma and more than 80 percent treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center are cured.
Our Lymphoma Program specialists, who are part of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Hematologic Malignancy Center, diagnose and treat the full range of newly diagnosed and relapsed lymphomas, including:
A quick and accurate diagnosis of lymphoma means that treatment can begin sooner rather than later. We perform a variety of tests to diagnose lymphoma and to determine where the disease is present, including blood tests, advanced imaging studies, and lymph node and other tissue biopsies. In addition, specialized testing such as immunophenotyping, cytogenetics, FISH, and/or molecular testing by PCR and other techniques is used is used to determine the exact type of lymphoma or if there are microscopic amounts of cancer present in the blood or bone marrow. Integrated interpretation of all imaging studies performed helps our doctors determine where in the body cancer cells are located to better guide treatment decisions.
Standard treatments for lymphoma include chemotherapy and radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. In cases where high dosages of chemotherapy are required, a stem cell transplant may be performed to replace blood-forming cells destroyed by treatment. Targeted therapies that identify and attack specific cancer cells while sparing healthy nearby tissue are increasingly being used to treat these cancers. Surgery plays a limited role in lymphoma treatment; however, some tumors need to be removed completely for other therapies to be successful.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's patients have access to the broadest set of pediatric hematologic and oncologic expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of each patient.
At the core of the treatment team is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist who specializes in the treatment of lymphoma. Many of our lymphoma specialists are also active researchers, so our patients have access to the very best and up-to-date treatments available.
From there, we build a team that is best suited to carry out the patient’s treatment plan, including radiation oncologists, pediatric surgeons, and pediatric oncology nurses, as well as other medical specialists.
We round out the team with experts who help the child prepare for life during and after treatment, including psychiatrists and psychologists, child life specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and school specialists.
Our clinical research program offers unique access to clinical trials in which children can receive the newest lymphoma treatments. A major focus of our research program is the rapid translation of scientific discoveries to the bedside to benefit patients. Through this research, our physicians work to improve therapeutic approaches and outcomes for hard-to-treat tumors.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is a founding member of the Pediatric Hodgkins Consortium, a small national consortium of leading medical centers investigating new treatments for children with Hodgkin lymphoma. Through the Children’s Oncology Group, our physicians are involved in therapeutic trials for newly diagnosed patients and biologic studies of lymphoma. In addition, our patients have access to investigational drug therapy at the time of relapse.
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