Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, which helps to fight disease and infection, is not one disease, but a group of diseases that share similarities in how they look under a microscope and that they all start in lymph tissue. The third most common childhood cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma causes a child’s lymphatic system to abnormally produce immune cells called lymphocytes, eventually causing tumors to grow. These tumors can spread throughout the body, including to other lymph nodes, the liver, spleen, bone marrow, spinal fluid, and lung.
There are several types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including:
Patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Lymphoma Program. Continue reading to learn more about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or visit the Lymphoma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
The symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma vary, depending on where the lymphoma starts. Some children with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have symptoms of an abdominal mass and complain of fever, constipation and decreased appetite; others complain of respiratory problems, including dyspnea (pain with deep breathing), cough and wheezing.
Common symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include:
An accurate diagnosis is critical, as some forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can crow very quickly (other forms are more slow growing). Tests to make a diagnosis and determine disease stage include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's has one of the largest and most experienced pediatric stem cell transplant programs in the United States. Watch Dr. Leslie Lehmann explain how stem cell transplants work.