• Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

    Lymphoblastic lymphoma is a cancer of immature lymphocytes, cells of the immune system, called lymphoblasts. It is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoblastic lymphoma primarily affects children and accounts for about 35% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas in children.

    Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Children with lymphoblastic lymphoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's through the Lymphoma Program in our Hematologic Malignancies Center. One of the top pediatric cancer centers worldwide, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s combines the expertise of a premier cancer center – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – and a world-class children’s hospital – Boston Children’s Hospital – to provide internationally-renowned care for children with cancers of the blood and immune system.

    What are the types of lymphoblastic lymphoma?

    The type of lymphoblast that causes lymphoblastic lymphoma can be either a T-lymphoblast, causing T-lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-LL), or a B-lymphoblast, causing B-lymphoblastic lymphoma (B-LL).

    These are the same type of cells that cause the most common forms of childhood leukemia: B-acute lymphoblasticleukemia (B-ALL) and T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL).

    The difference between lymphoblastic lymphoma and lymphoblastic leukemia is the percent of cancer cells that are present in the bone marrow at diagnosis. Whereas lymphoblastic lymphoma may present only with enlarged lymph nodes and no cancer cells in the blood or bone marrow, lymphoblastic leukemia usually has cancer cells visible in the blood and has more than 25% of the bone marrow replaced by cancer cells.

    T-lymphoblastic lymphoma is more common than B-lymphoblastic lymphoma and often starts in the thymus, located in a part of the upper chest called the mediastinum. This type of lymphoma may present itself with symptoms of cough, breathing difficulty or swelling of the head and neck due to the tumor pressing on the windpipe or large veins above the heart. T-LL can grow very quickly; making the diagnosis and starting treatment may be an emergency.

    B-lymphoblastic lymphoma often presents in the lymph nodes, skin or bone and usually is more slow-growing than T-LL.

    Both types of lymphoblastic lymphoma can spread to all parts of the body, including the fluid around the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) and in boys, to the testes. Bone marrow may have cancer cells evident, and if there are more than 25% cancer cells in the bone marrow, then it is called leukemia instead of lymphoma.

    What is the treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma?

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma are treated with the same treatment regimens, and the cure rate for both is high.