Lymphomas are cancers that develop when malignant cells infiltrate the lymphatic system. Childhood Hodgkin’s Lymphoma develops in the lymph system, which is an integral part of the body’s immune system.
Lymphomas are divided into two basic types:
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Lymphomas can start anywhere within the lymphatic system, but Hodgkin’s Lymphoma generally starts in the lymph nodes in the neck and more often in teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age.
Causes of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
The exact cause of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as with most childhood cancers, is not known. There are, however, indications that poor immunity and infections such as the virus that causes glandular fever may play a part in the development of childhood Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Other risks may be a personal history of mononucleosis, certain inherited diseases of the immune system, or an HIV infection.
Signs and Symptoms
Typical signs and symptoms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are:
- Breathing difficulties, occasional cough, and shortness of breath.
- Sweating, especially at night.
- Swelling of the face.
- Swollen lymph node(s), especially in the neck, armpit or groin (Hodgkin's disease usually presents with enlarged lymph nodes)
- Unexplained fever
- Unexplained weight loss
Tests and Diagnosis
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can be diagnosed using the following tests and procedures:
- Physical Exam and History: The doctor will perform an physical examination, checking your child’s general health as well as checking for such as lumps or anything unusual and a complete medical history will be taken
- A Lymph Node Biopsy: This means the removal of all or part of a lymph node so that it can be studied under a microscope for cancer cells.
Other tests that may be done include x-rays, a complete blood count, blood chemistry studies, or a PET/CT scan.
Treatment options for childhood Hodgkin’s Lymphoma depend on the type and staging of the cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is treated with combination chemotherapy. These anti-cancer drugs destroy cancer cells. Treatment is given over a period of a number of months, with treatments every few weeks.
- Radiotherapy: High energy rays are used to destroy the cancer cells. Used as first line therapy if the disease is very bulky or in relapsed HL.
Awareness Ribbon Colour
The awareness ribbon colour for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is Lime Green
Academic Editing by Dr Marc Hendricks MBChB (UCT), DIP PEC (SA), DCH (SA), FCPaeds (SA), CMO Paeds (SA) Senior Specialist, Paediatric Oncologist Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital
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