Lymphoma is the third most common form of childhood cancer, after leukemia and brain tumors. It can occur at any age. There are two general types of lymphoma seen in children: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While a diagnosis of lymphoma sounds scary, innovations in therapy for this disease have made these diseases highly treatable and curable in many instances.
The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most respected and recognized cancer programs in the nation. Our multidisciplinary pediatric cancer care team has the expertise and resources to provide comprehensive evaluation, treatment and management of lymphoma in infants, young children and adolescents. And the same physicians who take care of our pediatric lymphoma patients are the ones who are developing new ways to treat the disease with chemotherapy, targeted therapies and stem cell transplants. Our goal is to maintain excellent cure rates while minimizing the side effects of treatment.
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma generally begins in a lymph node. When a child has lymphoma, his or her lymphatic cells reproduce abnormally, interfering with the body's ability to fight infection. Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, the cancer can start anywhere and spread to other tissues and organs. The cause of lymphoma is unknown; however, children born with conditions that affect the immune system are at a higher risk for the disease.
The two forms of childhood lymphoma are:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
- Hodgkin lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma tends to occur in young children and is more common in boys than girls. Hodgkin lymphoma is seen more often in adolescents and affects boys and girls equally.
What are the Symptoms of Lymphoma?
Signs and symptoms vary in patients. Some of the more common symptoms of pediatric lymphomas include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever and night sweats
- Frequent viral infections
- Itchy skin
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes
- Weight loss/decreased appetite