Children's Lymphoma Cancer

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic cells, which are an important of the immune system. Lymphoma cancer can affect any vertebrae animal including humans, and while uncommon it does also affect children. First described by Thomas Hodgkin in 1832, Lymphoma has historically been divided into the categories of Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, though more recent systems of classification such as that developed by the World Health Organisation in 2008 subdivide them into further categories, including B-cell, T-cell and Natural Killer cell lymphoma.

Children and Lymphoma – Affection Rates

According to the most recent figures published by Macmillan Cancer Support, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer affects some 80 children of varied ages every year in the UK; Hodgkin's Lymphoma, meanwhile, affects fewer than 60 children annually in the UK and while it can affect kids at any age, it is more common amongst young adults and teenagers.

Causes of Lymphoma Cancer in Children

The causes of both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer in children are largely unknown. For Hodgkin's lymphoma, there is some evidence to suggest the odds of developing the disease may be increased by viral infections such as glandular fever. With regard to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma even less is known, however it has been established that children suffering from immune system deficiencies or who take immune-suppressing drugs for a prolonged period of time face a higher risk of developing it.

Symptoms and Signs

The most common signs of both Non- and Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer in children and adults alike are swollen lymph glands; often the ones in the neck, on one side or both, though swollen glands in the armpit or groin are also common signs. In children in particular, it is important to remember that a swollen gland is not necessarily a sign of cancer, as a swelling is not uncommon if the child has a cough or cold.

As with adults, children can also present further signs and most common amongst these, for both groups, are:

  • Unexplained fevers
  • Nocturnal sweating
  • Itchy skin
  • Unexpected and dramatic weight loss

Treatment

By far the most common treatment of both Non- and Hodgkin's Lymphoma is chemotherapy, which involves the intravenous injection of a combination of drugs. The number of treatments required will depend on the stage which the cancer has reached in the child, as well as their age, and the type of lymphoma cancer which the child suffers from. For some types, such as B-cell non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a course consisting of 4 to 8 treatments is often sufficient; for T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, treatments may last up to 2 years. As estimating how many treatments will be needed is virtually impossible without conducting a full diagnosis, the best way to find out how many and how intense treatments are needed for a specific case is to consult your doctor. While it is tempting to research your own or your child's disease, and this is definitely both a good and healthy thing to do, it is important to remember that your doctor is highly qualified and will be able to help you through the process.

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