Skip Navigation

How We Treat Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Children with Hodgkin lymphoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's 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 course of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma depends on many factors, such as the stage of the tumor. It may include the following; alone, or in combination:

    • Chemotherapy: A drug treatment that interferes with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. For some types of cancer, chemotherapy is used alone, while in other types it is used in combination with another therapy or therapies.
    • Radiation therapy: Uses high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Utilizing radiation therapy is based on a tumor's initial stage at diagnosis and its response to chemotherapy.
    • Surgery: May be used to treated lymphocytic predominant disease that involves only one lymph node but is not used to treat classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
    • Stem cell transplant: Often used when lymphoma progresses despite initial treatment, or when it relapses. Stem cell transplantation for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma most often involves collecting stem cells from the patient, followed by administering very high doses of chemotherapy to eliminate lymphoma cells in the bone marrow. After high-dose chemotherapy, the patient's stem cells that were already collected are infused back into the body and bone marrow function is restored.

    Treatment Options for Progressive or Recurrent Hodgkin Lymphoma

    Treatment of recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma depends on where the disease recurs, previous treatments and the time since the first treatment was completed. These treatments include:

    • Chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy
    • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
    • Chemotherapy with monoclonal antibody therapy

    We also offer innovative clinical trials for children with Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of these were launched by our own physicians, while others are available in collaboration with the Children's Oncology Group (COG), St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and other national and international groups. Clinical trials may also be available through our collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.

    Learn more about clinical trials for pediatric cancer.

    Long-term Outlook for Children and Teens with Hodgkin Lymphoma

    Both classical and nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma are highly curable, with survival rates between 90 and 95 percent.

    Children and adolescents may have treatment-related side effects that can appear months or years after treatment, including problems with bone growth and development of sex organs in males, infertility, and thyroid, heart and lung diseases. As many as 30 percent of patients who survive childhood Hodgkin lymphoma develop a secondary cancer after diagnosis, primarily breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid cancer, or acute leukemia. Many current treatment regimens and research studies now focus on trying to decrease the risk for these late effects. For these reasons, survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma should receive regular follow-up monitoring and care.

    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.

    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/Boston Children's have helped thousands of childhood cancer survivors, treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's and at other hospitals in New England and elsewhere, to manage these long-term challenges.