Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children

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Contact the Lymphoma Program


"Parents know their child in ways we can never know the child, while we have a wealth of experience of helping kids through cancer treatment. Between us, we figure out the best way for all of us to support their child."

Amy L. Billett, MD, director of Lymphoma Program, Boston Children's Hospital

Learning that your child has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, is a frightening and life-changing experience for any parent. We are here to work with you, your child and your family through every moment of your journey.

As difficult as coping with your child’s cancer can be, it’s important to remember that there is cause for hope: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a very treatable cancer, and more than 80 percent of children are cured.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma isn’t one disease—it’s a group of many different diseases that share some similarities in terms of how the cells look under a microscope and that they all start in lymph tissue.The non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) are a diverse group of blood cancers that include any kind of lymphoma except Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare disease that occurs in one out of every 100 thousand children per year in the United States.
  • It is the third most common childhood cancer.
  • It accounts for 7 percent of childhood cancer.
  • It causes the cells in a child’s lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually causing tumors to grow.
  • Lymphoma cells can spread throughout the body.  Common sites of spread include other lymph nodes, liver, spleen, bone marrow, spinal fluid, and lung.
  • Children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are usually treated with chemotherapy.  A few kinds of non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be treated with surgery alone.
  • Reed-Sternberg cells are always seen in Hodgkin lymphoma and can rarely occur in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s approaches non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Patients with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are treated through Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital.  Specialists within our Lymphoma Program ensure that every aspect of your child’s health is overseen before, during and after his treatment period. Our multidisciplinary approach is used at every step of care, including reading x-rays, interpreting the diagnosis and making clinical decisions. We understand each child is different, and we take a multidisciplinary approach to make sure we are delivering the best care possible for your child.

 The New Normal
With quality of life always a priority, the oncology team at Children's and Dana-Farber knew there must be something they could do to minimize hospital stays. Read more about mobile hydration system they developed.

Reviewed by Amy L. Billett, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; 2011

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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