Lymphoma (Pediatric)

Lymphoma is a cancer that is composed of lymphocytes, a specific cell subtype that plays an important role in our immune system. Lymphoma can start within lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and other parts of the body's immune and blood-forming system, such as the spleen and bone marrow. The third most common childhood cancer, lymphoma most frequently appears in the second decade of life, although it can occur at any time.

The experienced team of multidisciplinary specialists at the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Program has the diagnostic capabilities to accurately diagnose lymphoma and the cutting-edge therapies, including Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials, to treat lymphoma. In addition, a minority of patients with lymphoma may need the services of our Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, one of the largest and most innovative in the country.

Types of lymphoma in children:

We treat all forms of childhood lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Lymphoblastic lymphoma
  • Burkitt’s lymphoma
  • Diffuse large B cell lymphoma
  • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Many other uncommon forms of lymphoma

Symptoms and diagnosis of lymphoma in children

Common symptoms of lymphoma can be similar to the flu and include fever, weakness and night sweats. Diagnosis is typically made by obtaining a tissue biopsy and conducting a pathological exam. Once we determine the specific diagnosis, we stage the cancer, which is the process of determining if the cancer has spread and how far. Radiologic evaluation, which may include CT scans, PET scans, and other tests, is performed in order to determine which parts of the body are involved and the extent of the disease. In addition, bone marrow exams to look for lymphoma cells in the bone marrow and a spinal tap to determine if there are lymphoma cells in the spinal fluid are usually performed.

Treatment of lymphoma in children

Pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians make up our Tumor Board, a panel of specialists that meets regularly to discuss each patient’s case and create a coordinated, individualized plan of care.

Treatment is typically chemotherapy. In some cases of Hodgkin’s disease, radiation may also be part of the treatment. Chemotherapy may be administered on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the type and stage of lymphoma.

What sets our program apart

We have a variety of national clinical trials available through the Children’s Oncology Group – an organization funded through National Institutes of Health – for both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. In addition, we are an active Phase 1 Center. Phase 1 trials are available at only a handful of centers around the country, offering the newest drugs available for children who haven’t responded well to standard treatments.

Patients who have undergone an organ transplantation or are taking immunosuppressant medications are at risk for developing post transplant lymphoproliferative disease, which can be life threatening. Treating these patients is one of the strengths of our Pediatric Lymphoma Program, due to our skilled pediatric cancer team and the high volume of transplants performed at the University of Michigan.

Take the next step

Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-936-9814.