What to Know About Lymphoma in Children

lymphoma in children

In youngsters, cancer is uncommon. When paediatric cancer does arise, lymphoma is a prevalent form. Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in children. For children with lymphoma, the prognosis is frequently extremely favourable.

Cancer known as lymphoma originates in the lymphatic system, a component of the immune system that includes the tonsils, spleen, and lymph nodes in addition to other tissues. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are where this cancer begins.

Adults and children can both acquire lymphoma. We'll explore the various facets of childhood lymphoma below, including symptoms, diagnostic procedures, management, and prognosis.

How rare is lymphoma in children?

In general, cancer in youngsters is uncommon. In fact, in 2023 the American Cancer Society (ACS) projected that 9,910 children in the US would receive a new cancer diagnosis of any kind.

One of the most prevalent cancers in children is lymphoma. Children can acquire both of the two primary forms of lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) are these.

Hodgkin lymphoma

About 3% of childhood malignancies are caused by HL. Usually, B lymphocytes (B cells) are where it begins. Approximately 90% of cases of HL are classified as classic Hodgkin lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

5 percent of childhood malignancies are related to NHL. It can arise in T lymphocytes (T cells), B cells, or NK cells, another subset of white blood cells. It frequently expands swiftly. Among the prevalent forms of NHL in kids are:
  • lymphoblastic lymphoma
  • anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Burkitt lymphoma
  • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

What are the symptoms of lymphoma in children?

Children's lymphoma symptoms and indicators can include:
Enlarged lymph nodes that are painless, like those:
  • under the arm
  • around the groin
  • in the neck
  • above the collarbone
  • respiratory symptoms such as breathing difficulties, wheezing, or coughing
  • itchy skin
Certain characteristics known as "B symptoms" aid medical professionals in staging and prognostication.

Among them are:
  • fever with unclear cause
  • drenching night sweats
  • unintended weight loss

What are the causes of lymphoma in children?

It is unknown what specifically causes lymphoma in youngsters. DNA alterations that trigger uncontrollably growing and dividing cells, like lymphocytes, are typically the root cause of malignancies.

Genetic alterations can be acquired throughout life or inherited from parents. Acquired DNA alterations frequently result from errors made during cell division.

There are certain established risk factors for childhood lymphoma. Among these are the following:
  • an ancestry of lymphoma
  • The virus known as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) affects B cells.
  • a compromised immune system, as a result of
  • inherited immunodeficiency syndromes
  • immunosuppressive medications
  • an organ transplant
  • HIV or AIDS
Children's risk of developing NHL may also be raised by radiation exposure, such as that which occurs during treatment for another paediatric cancer.

How is lymphoma in children diagnosed?

A comprehensive medical history covering symptoms, family history, and preexisting diseases is necessary for a doctor to diagnose lymphoma. In addition, a physical examination will be performed, and enlarged lymph nodes will be checked for.

The only method available to confirm a lymphoma diagnosis is a biopsy. Usually, a lymph node is used to get a biopsy sample. The lymph node may be removed completely in certain situations.

Finding lymphoma cells in a biopsy sample can be accomplished by analysis. Additional tests can assist in identifying the precise type of lymphoma if it is discovered.

The stage of the lymphoma will be determined after diagnosis. The lymphoma prognosis and treatment options are influenced by the staging, which establishes the extent of the cancer in the body.

Other examinations that could aid in the diagnosis or staging of lymphoma in your child include:

Blood tests, such as:
  • complete blood count
  • blood chemistry
  • testing for kidney and liver function
  • testing for erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein
  • lactate dehydrogenase test
  • tests for EBV or HIV
Imaging tests, which may be:
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan, which also encompasses PET-CT or PET-MRI scan
  • X-rays

What’s the treatment for lymphoma in children?

When treating lymphoma in children, physicians frequently use chemotherapy (chemo), usually in combination with other medications. Your child may occasionally undergo chemotherapy in addition to targeted therapy or radiation therapy.

A stem cell transplant may be advised if first-line therapies are ineffective or if the lymphoma returns following therapy. This may contribute to the restoration of a healthy bone marrow, which in turn would produce healthy lymphocytes.

Whichever type of lymphoma your kid has, you need to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various treatment options. Certain cancer therapies can have long-term impacts since youngsters are still growing and developing.

What’s the outlook for children with lymphoma?

For children with lymphoma, the prognosis is usually excellent. According to the National Cancer Institute, for people under the age of twenty:
  • Between 2011 and 2017, the 5-year overall survival rate for HL was 98%.
  • Between 2012 and 2018, the 5-year relative survival rate for the NHL was 90%.
The prognosis for kids with lymphoma is influenced by numerous factors. Among them are:
  • the type of lymphoma
  • the stage of the lymphoma
  • your child’s age and overall health
  • where in the body the lymphoma is located
  • the nature of the therapy and the cancer's reaction to it
  • if the lymphoma was just discovered or returned after therapy
As mentioned above, certain cancer therapies may have an impact on a child's future health because they are still growing and developing. We refer to these as late impacts.

Two potential side effects of lymphoma treatment include infertility problems and recurrent malignancies. The heart, neurological system, and bones are among the various parts of the body that may be impacted by the late consequences of lymphoma treatment.


What is lymphoma in a child?

One kind of cancer that arises in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system—a system that is a component of the immune system—is called lymphoma (lim-FOE-muh). Together, these systems help the body get rid of bacteria, viruses, and other dangerous materials. The lymph nodes, also known as lymph glands, are a part of the lymphatic system.

Does my child have lymphoma?

Doctors look for swelling in the hands, feet, abdomen, or face, as well as swollen lymph nodes and respiratory issues when diagnosing lymphoma. When a child has an enlarged lymph node for an unknown reason, the doctor may occasionally monitor the node attentively to see if it grows or shrinks.

Can a child survive lymphoma?

Yes, to put it briefly. The figures below might be even better if your child receives a diagnosis today due to advancements in treatment. These figures are positive.

How does a child get lymphoma?

Usually, changes in the genes of developing blood cells result in lymphoma. Doctors typically don't know why this occurs. Children who have immune system issues are more likely to get lymphoma.

How was your child diagnosed with lymphoma?

Doctors look for swelling in the hands, feet, abdomen, or face, as well as swollen lymph nodes and respiratory issues when diagnosing lymphoma. When a child has an enlarged lymph node for an unknown reason, the doctor may occasionally monitor the node attentively to see if it grows or shrinks.


Although paediatric cancer cases are uncommon, lymphoma is one of the most prevalent forms of the disease. Either NHL or HL are possible.

Children with lymphoma are usually treated with chemotherapy. On the other hand, your physician might also recommend additional therapies including radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or stem cell transplantation.

For children with lymphoma, the prognosis is usually favourable. Outlook might vary depending on several circumstances, including the type and stage of the lymphoma. To gain further insight into your child's unique perspective, make sure to have a conversation with their care staff.

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