What is Childhood Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a name for a group of cancers of the lymphatic system, part of the body's immune defense system. It can occur when an error takes place in the way a lymphocyte is produced. The resulting abnormal cells accumulate either by duplicating faster or living longer than normal cells, and they displace normal lymphocytes.
Like normal lymphocytes, cancerous lymphocytes can grow in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow or blood. Because there is lymph tissue throughout the body, the cancer cells may spread to other organs.
Lymphoma is rare in children. Childhood and adult lymphomas differ from each other in that childhood lymphomas tend to respond to treatment differently than adult lymphomas.
Types of Childhood Lymphoma
There are a number of different forms of childhood lymphoma, whose symptoms, rate of spread, pattern of spread and treatment vary.
The two main types of cancer of the lymphatic system are:
Following are some common symptoms of lymphoma:
Swelling of the lymph nodes that doesn't go away after a couple of weeks
Unexplained weight loss
Children with immunodiffiencies are at an increased risk for developing childhood lymphoma.
Diagnosing Childhood Lymphoma
If symptoms are present, your child's doctor will perform a complete physical exam and may prescribe additional tests to find the cause of your child's symptoms. Initial tests may include bllod tests, biopsy, chest x-rays, CT or CAT scan or thoracentesis.
If cancer is detected, your child's doctor will prescribe additional tests to determine the type of lymphoma as well as the stage (progress) of the disease.
Treatment options for childhood lymphoma will depend on the:
Type of lymphoma diagnosed
Stage of the disease
General health of the child
The most common treatment options for childhood lymphoma are: