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Treatment of Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, once known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which plays a vital role in protecting the body and is part of our immune system. Lymphocytes, a special type of blood cell, develop within this system.

If lymphocytes start growing and developing uncontrollably, it leads to the development of a tumor, and this is what leads to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While this cancer is typically found in adults, it can also be diagnosed in children, which is why it’s important to understand how pediatric Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment is performed.

Pediatric Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Treatment Options

If a child is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, their doctor will take a couple of different factors into consideration before they decide on the best treatment option. These factors include what stage the cancer is in, where the tumor is located, the patient’s overall age and health.

Once they’ve taken all of these factors into consideration, the oncologist in charge of the patient’s care and treatment will decide on one or more of the following treatment options.


Chemotherapy is typically the first line of defense used in treating any type of cancer, and it involves administering specialized drugs in pill form or intravenously in order to destroy the cancer cells in the patient’s body.

Chemotherapy is always given in cycles and sometimes it’s the only treatment option that is given, especially for early-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while other times it’s combined with other treatment options.

While the patient is undergoing chemotherapy, they will be monitored by their medical team to determine how to proceed with the treatment.


Since Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects a part of the immune system, in some cases oncologists will choose immunotherapy as a treatment option.

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment option during which doctors use immune checkpoint inhibitors to improve the patient’s immune system. This should make their body stronger and give it a better chance at fighting off cancer.

However, this isn’t used as a first-line treatment and is only given to those who are suffering from recurrent or refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Bone Marrow Transplant

When Hodgkin’s lymphoma first develops, it’s typically confined to the lymphatic system and affects areas of the body such as the lymph nodes, lymphatic organs and lymphatic vessels. However, if the cancer develops into a more severe stage, it can spread to other parts of the body, including the patient’s bone marrow.

If it’s determined that the tumor is present in the bone marrow after a bone marrow biopsy, the doctor will also perform a transplant.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure that involves injecting the patient with healthy stem cells that will, over time, help the bone marrow heal. When this happens, it will once again start producing enough healthy red and white blood cells and platelets and be able to fight off the cancerous cells.

Another reason why doctors will choose to perform a bone marrow transplant is if it gets damaged by high-dose chemotherapy.


Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy for short, is a cancer treatment option that uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Typically, it’s administered via a machine that sends radiation beams through the patient’s body until it reaches the cancer cells and breaks them apart.

This treatment option is typically given after chemotherapy in hopes of destroying the remaining cancer cells. However, doctors are very careful with radiotherapy and how and when they administer it, especially for pediatric cases, because high doses of radiation can stunt a child’s growth and have other long-term side effects.


While surgery isn’t typically used to treat this type of cancer, it may sometimes be an option. To be more precise, surgery is a viable treatment option if the patient is affected by a subtype of Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NLPHL).

If pediatric NLPHL is diagnosed early on, it can be treated with surgery only, after which the patient will be closely monitored so their medical team can keep track of their progress.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment option that involves using specialized drugs to, as the name suggests, target only the cancerous cells. While other treatment options have an effect on healthy cells just like they do on cancerous cells, targeted therapy leaves healthy cells unharmed.

With targeted therapy, doctors aim to stop the growth and spreading of cancerous cells. It’s important to mention that this treatment option isn’t given as a first-line treatment and is typically only administered for stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma after other treatment options have been exhausted.

Follow-up Care

It’s important to understand that cancer treatment isn’t over when the patient has entered remission. It’s still vital to check on their overall health, if their body is responding well to the treatment, what side effects they’re experiencing and whether the cancer has returned.

This part of the treatment process is known as follow-up care and it involves physical examinations and medical tests that are performed during routine checkups. These checkups will first be performed once every few weeks, then every couple of months, and over time will only be needed once or twice a year.

Follow-up care will last for the rest of the patient’s life and it may also include mental health support so the child can get used to life post-treatment and post-cancer.

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