Childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system.
The lymph system is part of the immune system and is made up of the following:
Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body. Cancer can spread to the liver and many other organs and tissues.
There are four major types of childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The specific type of lymphoma is determined by how the cells look under a microscope. The 4 major types of childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:
There are other types of lymphoma that occur in children. These include the following:
Possible signs of childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma include breathing problems and swollen lymph nodes.
These and other symptoms may be caused by childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
Tests that examine the body and lymph system are used to detect (find) and diagnose childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on:
After childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. Some of the tests that are used to diagnose childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma are also used to stage the disease. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.
The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:
When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.
The following stages are used for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma
In stage I childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer is found:
No cancer is found in the abdomen or mediastinum (area between the lungs).
In stage II childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer is found:
In stage III childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer is found:
In stage IV childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer is found in the bone marrow, brain, or cerebrospinal fluid. Cancer may also be found in other parts of the body.
Childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma is also described as low-stage or high-stage.
Treatment for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma is based on whether the cancer is low-stage or high-stage. Low-stage lymphoma has not spread beyond the area in which it began. High-stage lymphoma has spread beyond the area in which it began. Stage I and stage II are usually considered low-stage. Stage III and stage IV are usually considered high-stage.
National Cancer Institute