Treating Children With Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- The goal in treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children is to put them into remission — the same as it is for adults
- Doctors use more aggressive treatment in children because they tolerate chemotherapy better than adults
- Long-term survival in children with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas is over 90%
“A lot of the general concepts of treating lymphomas in children are very similar to the adults,” Dr. Matthew Barth, pediatric oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, tells SurvivorNet. For example, kids will get some combination of the same treatments adults receive — chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant, and targeted therapy. “But the exact treatment regimens we use differ quite a bit from what the adults use,” Dr. Barth says.
Treatment Depends on Cancer TypeRead More
Putting Together the Best Treatment Team
When a child is diagnosed with lymphoma, it’s especially important to find a pediatric oncologist who has a lot of experience treating this kind of cancer. An experienced doctor will be up on the latest research, and will know which therapies have had the most success.
Your treatment team will consist not only of a pediatric oncologist, but may also include a:
- Radiation oncologist
- Pediatric surgeon
- Pediatric nurse specialist
- Social worker
The members of this team are there to answer your questions and guide you through the treatment process. If there is anything you don’t understand while your child is undergoing treatment, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
Although a cancer diagnosis can be scary, especially when it involves children, parents can take some comfort in knowing that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is very treatable. Doctors are constantly improving the chemotherapy regimens by adjusting the doses and medications, and by introducing new drugs when they become available.
“We’re actually very successful in pediatrics treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in particular B-cell lymphomas,” Dr. Barth says. Right now the long-term survival rate of children with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas is over 90%, “which is a much better outcome than we tend to see in adults.”
In those less-common situations where a child doesn’t respond well to the currently available treatments, a clinical trial is always an option. These studies test out new treatments, including immunotherapies, to see how well they work. It’s possible that a treatment under investigation could work better for a child with lymphoma than any of the currently approved treatments.
If your child has tried several treatments and their cancer hasn’t responded, ask your doctor about enrolling them in a clinical trial. A study is an option even for children who are newly diagnosed. In fact, some clinical trials are only open to children who haven’t yet started treatment.
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