Hodgkin lymphoma (lim-FOE-muh) is a type of cancer that develops in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. These systems work together to remove bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances from the body.
To check for Hodgkin lymphoma, doctors look for signs of infection; swollen lymph nodes; breathing problems; or swelling in the belly, face, hands, or feet.
Sometimes, when a child has an enlarged lymph node with no known cause, the doctor will watch the node closely to see if it shrinks or grows. If it stays enlarged or gets bigger, the next step is a biopsy to check in a lab for cancer cells. Doctors can do:
Needle aspiration biopsy: Doctors numb part of the body with local anesthesia, then use a hollow needle to remove a tiny bit of tissue from the lymph node for testing.
Incisional or excisional biopsy: This is done in an operating room. Kids get medicines (anesthesia) to sleep. Then, the doctor makes a small cut to remove a piece of the lymph node (incisional) or the whole lymph node (excisional).
Biopsies also can check for lymphomas that might involve the bone marrow, chest, or belly.
If lymphoma is found, other tests can tell the type of lymphoma and whether it has spread (metastasized). These tests may include:
blood tests, including checking the number of blood cells and how well the kidneys and liver are working
imaging tests like ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) , magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-rays
A pediatric oncologist (a doctor who specializes in childhood cancer) will lead the medical team caring for a child with Hodgkin lymphoma. The oncologist works with other specialists, including nurses, social workers, and psychologists.
Treatment is based on staging. Staging is a way to see if the disease has spread and, if it has, how much. This information helps the care team choose the best treatments.
enrollment in a clinical trial: tests of new cancer treatments or comparing them with current treatments. Many clinical trials focus on reducing side effects of current treatments.
Remission is when doctors see no cancer cells in the body. Hodgkin lymphoma can have very high remission rates. Most kids and teens are cured of the disease. This means that they're in permanent remission and will have long-term cancer-free survival.
After treatment, anyone who has had Hodgkin lymphoma should have regular checkups throughout their life to make sure the lymphoma hasn't come back. Doctors also want to make sure that the cancer therapy doesn’t lead to longer-term problems.
What Else Should I Know?
Having a child being treated for cancer can feel overwhelming for any family. But you're not alone. To find support, talk to your child's doctor or a hospital social worker. Many resources are available to help you get through this difficult time.
You also can find more information and support online at: