How is non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated?
Treatment is based on the specific type and stage of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Once we make a diagnosis and the staging is complete, we will begin to plan treatment, which always involves chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells or keep them from growing. Radiation is rarely used.
Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Most children will require treatment with chemotherapy. Many of the chemotherapy drugs we give require placement of a special type of IV called a central line. A pediatric surgeon places this special IV in the operating room while the patient is asleep so they don’t experience any discomfort. The central line can stay in for the duration of therapy and then we remove it.
Different treatment protocols use different chemotherapy drugs. Once we have decided on your child’s treatment plan, your child’s doctors and nurses will explain what to expect from each of the drugs.
Sometimes doctors will need extra tests, such as heart and lung function tests, before chemotherapy to monitor potential side effects.
Radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
If treatment for your child includes radiation therapy, you will meet with our pediatric radiation oncologist (cancer doctor) early in the treatment course to find out what to expect. In the case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we rarely give radiation treatments after chemotherapy treatments are complete. If needed, they are given at the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion, across the street from Children’s Colorado.
Why choose us for treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Our Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders has a specialized group of doctors who are national leaders in the treatment of lymphoma. We offer cutting-edge and proven treatment protocols for lymphoma with excellent outcomes. We often have clinical trials available to consider as treatment options. Treatment planning involves a multidisciplinary team, led by a pediatric oncologist. Other specialists who work as part of the team include pediatric surgeons, a pediatric radiation oncologist, pediatric pathologists, pediatric radiologists and pediatric oncology nurses and advance practice providers.
We also have a Wellness Program comprised of social workers, child life specialists, and a child psychologist on the team who provide advice and support to patients and their families who are coping with the stress of cancer.
In the unusual case where lymphoma doesn’t respond to treatment or comes back after treatment, further treatment options are available. In this situation, treatment may involve high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, which we provide through our bone marrow transplantation program. We sometimes provide treatment through our Experimental Therapeutics Program, which offers new, cutting-edge therapies for diseases that are more difficult to treat.
Our Center participates in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). The COG is a clinical trials group supported by the National Cancer Institute. The COG is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The COG brings together more than 8,000 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
If a clinical trial through COG is available to treat your child’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we will likely ask if you would like your child to participate. If a clinical trial is not available, if we do not feel that study participation is the best option for your child, or if you prefer not to participate, then we will provide you with the best available treatment based on the results of the latest treatment studies.
Read more about our cancer research.