Treatment for Children with Lymphoma

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Personalized Lymphoma Treatment for Your Child

At MSK Kids, we customize your child’s care plan. We take into account the type and stage of the cancer and your child’s age and symptoms. Our goal is to put the cancer into remission. This means the size of the abnormal lymph nodal mass has significantly decreased and does not appear abnormal on a PET scan.

This information is about lymphoma in children and teenagers. Read more about:

The approaches we use are highly effective without causing significant side effects. When you bring your child to MSK Kids for lymphoma care, you’ll benefit from a team of doctors. We have expertise in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant therapy, and CAR T cell therapy for children and young adults with lymphoma.

Chemotherapy in Children with Lymphoma

Your child’s lymphoma treatment usually begins with a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Each drug targets lymphoma cells in a different way. Using this approach, doctors can attack lymphoma cells from a variety of angles. This reduces the chance that the cancer will become resistant to any one of the treatments. The intensity of treatment will depend on the stage of your child’s cancer. More intense therapies are given to children with higher stage cancers. Your child’s doctor will speak with you about the intensity and duration of your child’s treatment so you’ll know what to expect.

Treatment by Day, Home at Night

At MSK Kids, we give almost all chemotherapy on an outpatient basis in our Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center. That means your child can receive treatment and be back in their own bed the same night, surrounded by the comforts of your home.

Radiation Therapy for Lymphoma in Children

Most children with Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma will not need radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells remaining in the body after chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma in people with extensive areas of cancer.

Stem Cell Transplantation for Lymphoma in Children

When lymphoma comes back or does not respond well to initial therapy, we give higher doses of different chemotherapy drugs to achieve remission. During this time, we collect and freeze stem cells from your child’s bloodstream. These cells have the potential to mature into new blood cells. Once remission is achieved, we give a second round of intensive chemotherapy to wipe out any remaining cancer cells. We then give your child their stored stem cells to help the blood-forming system reestablish itself. MSK Kids has one of the strongest stem cell transplantation programs in the country. Our doctors work closely with the lymphoma team to care for children with challenging cancers.

CAR T Cell Therapy for Lymphoma in Children

We offer the most-advanced treatment for lymphoma: chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. This form of immunotherapy is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat some lymphomas in adults. At MSK Kids, we are offering this therapy to patients under age 18 with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma through a clinical trial. With CAR T cell therapy, white blood cells called T cells are removed from the patient. The cells are altered in a laboratory to recognize a protein on the cancer cells. They are then multiplied to larger numbers and returned to the patient, where they find and destroy cancer cells. MSK was involved in the initial research that led to the FDA’s approval of CAR T cell therapy. We have exceptional experience caring for people receiving this intensive treatment.

What if my child’s cancer comes back?

If the lymphoma keeps growing or comes back (recurs) despite initial treatment, your child’s care team will design a new care plan. MSK Kids lymphoma specialists have strong expertise in the treatment of recurrent lymphoma in young patients. Your child may receive targeted therapies. These take aim at the specific molecules driving the cancer’s growth. Your child may also be able to receive an investigational therapy through a clinical trial.

  1. Mora J, Filippa DA, Qin J, et al. Lymphoblastic lymphoma of childhood and the LSA2-L2 protocol. The 30-year experience at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Cancer 2003;98:1283-1291. [PubMed Abstract]
  2. Sposto R, Meadows AT, Chilcote RR, Steinherz PG, Kieldsberg C, Kadin ME, Krailo MD, Termuhlen AM, Morse M, Siegel SE. Comparison of long-term outcome of children and adolescents with disseminated Non-Lymphoblastic Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma treated with COMP or Daunomycin-COMP: A report from the Children’s Cancer Group. Med Pediatr Oncol 2001;37:432-441. [PubMed Abstract]