What Is Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that causes cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making the body less able to fight infection.
- Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common cancer in people ages 15 to 19 and is also one of the most treatable.
- The difference between Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is that Hodgkin lymphoma is marked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. These are mature B cells that are malignant (cancerous) and unusually large.
- Hodgkin lymphoma usually begins in the lymph nodes of one part of a child's body, usually the head, neck, or chest, and then tends to spread in a predictable manner from one part of the lymphatic system to the next. In advanced stages, the disease can spread to the lungs, liver, bones, bone marrow, or other organs.
There are two types of Hodgkin lymphoma:
- Classical Hodgkin lymphoma: This is the more common type of disease. It is characterized by the presence of large, abnormal Reed-Sternberg cells.
- Nodular lymphocyte predominant: This is a rare type, involving variants of Reed-Sternberg cells called “popcorn” cells because of their appearance.
Symptoms of Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma
The symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin, or chest
- Dyspnea — difficulty breathing due to enlarged lymph nodes in the chest
- Persistent fever
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Pruritus (itchy skin)
It is important to note that many of these symptoms relate to causes other than cancer.
Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment Team
Dana-Farber/Boston-Children's patients have access to the broadest set of pediatric oncologic expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of your child.