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About Childhood Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a cancer of mature B-lymphocytes. It is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that originates in cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes.

    • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma usually starts in lymph nodes, but may also start in the bone, skin, or other organs of the body.
    • It can spread to many parts of the body. When it is only in one area of the body (stage 1 or 2) it is called localized. When it is more extensive (stage 3 or 4) it is called advanced.
    • With current therapies, more than 90% of children with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma are cured of the disease.

    Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is more common in adults than in children and behaves differently in adults than in children. In children and adolescents, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is usually treated in the same way that Burkitt lymphoma is treated. Although diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is an aggressive cancer, it is not as fast growing as Burkitt lymphoma.

    Learn more about non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including causes and symptoms in children and teens.

    How We Treat Childhood Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

    Children and teens with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Childhood Lymphoma Program in our Childhood Hematologic Malignancy Center. Dana-Farber/Boston Children's offers internationally renowned care for children with cancers of the blood and immune system.

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's also offers a wide array of support services and programs for pediatric patients and their families during and after cancer treatment.

    The cure rate for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is very high. For the purpose of deciding how much treatment is necessary, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma may be divided by stage (localized or advanced) or by the risk group classification that is used for Burkitt lymphoma.

    Newly diagnosed, localized, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, may be treated with a short, 9-week course of chemotherapy. This includes the drugs cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone.

    If your child has advanced diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, treatment is the same as the treatment for Burkitt lymphoma.

    Older adolescents may be treated with the same chemotherapy regimen that is used for adult diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. This treatment program is called "R-CHOP."

    For diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that does not respond to initial treatment (refractory) or that comes back after treatment (relapse), treatment recommendations are the same as for relapsed or refractory Burkitt lymphoma.

    Learn about childhood Burkitt lymphoma diagnosis and treatment.

    Long-term Follow-up for Children with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

    Childhood cancer was once considered to be invariably fatal, but today, the majority of children diagnosed with cancer can expect to be long-term survivors. With current therapies, more than 90% of children with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma are cured of the disease.

    Along with survivorship come numerous complex issues: the long-term effects of treatment and the risk of second cancers, as well as social and psychological concerns. For these reasons, survivors of childhood diffuse large B-cell lymphoma should receive regular follow-up monitoring and care.

    Since 1993, physicians, nurses, researchers, and psychologists in our pediatric cancer survivorship programs at the David B. Perini Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber have helped thousands of childhood cancer survivors, treated at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's and at other hospitals in New England and elsewhere, to manage these long-term challenges of surviving cancer.

    Childhood Diffuse Large B-Cell Treatment Team

    Dana-Farber/Boston-Children's patients have access to the broadest set of pediatric hematologic and oncologic expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of your child.

    See a complete list of the specialists in our Childhood Hematologic Malignancy Center.