How is Hodgkin lymphoma treated?
This planning involves a multidisciplinary team, led by a pediatric oncologist (cancer doctor) who is a member of our solid tumor team. 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 social workers, child life specialists, and a child psychologist on the team who are able to provide their advice and support to patients and their families who are coping with the stress of cancer. Once a diagnosis is made and the staging is complete, your child’s doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado will begin to plan treatment, which almost always involves chemotherapy (drugs used to kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells or keep them from growing) and often radiation therapy (X-rays that kill the cancer cells or keeps them from growing).
Treatment is based on the specific type and stage of Hodgkin lymphoma. In some specific cases with low-stage disease, treatment may be surgery alone.
Chemotherapy for 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. This special IV is placed by a pediatric surgeon in the operating room while the patient is asleep so that they don’t experience any discomfort. The central line can stay in for the duration of therapy, which is usually a few months, then is removed.
Different treatment protocols use different chemotherapy drugs, so once your child’s treatment plan is decided, your doctors and nurses will explain what to expect from each of the drugs.
Sometimes, doctors will need some extra tests like heart and lung function tests before chemotherapy to monitor potential side effects. In most cases, chemotherapy will be given in our clinic and your child will be able to go home the same day. However, some chemotherapy protocols require a stay in the hospital for a few days.
Radiation therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma
If treatment for your child includes radiation therapy, you will get to meet with our pediatric radiation oncologist early in the treatment course to find out what to expect. Radiation treatments are usually given after chemotherapy treatments are completed. They are given at the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion, across the street from Children’s Colorado.
The good news: Most children and adolescents are cured
With modern treatments, most children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma will be cured. In the unusual case where lymphoma doesn’t respond to treatment or comes back after treatment, Children’s Colorado will be able to offer further treatment options, sometimes provided through our Experimental Therapeutics Program, which offers cutting-edge new therapies for more difficult to treat diseases. Treatment in this situation may also involve high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, provided through our bone marrow transplantation program.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Colorado participates in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials group, which 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 for your child to treat his or her Hodgkin lymphoma, we will likely discuss if you would like your child to participate. If a clinical trial is not available, if we do not feel that participation on a study is the best option for your child, or if you decide you would prefer not to participate, then we will provide you with the best up-to-date treatment available based on the results of the latest treatment studies.
Read more about our cancer research.