Pediatric Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)
Treatments for Pediatric Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
At Sheba, our pediatric specialists are highly experienced at tailoring cancer therapies to meet the unique needs of our younger patients. Treatment of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children is different from the treatment for adults. With children, especially younger kids who are prepubescent and still growing, we strive to cure the cancer without causing other long-term health problems. The major factors in designing a treatment strategy are the particular type of NHL, where the cancer is located, and the stage of the disease. Usually, stronger therapies are required for successful treatment of advanced stage NHL.
Treatment options for NHL in children may include:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Because these drugs enter the bloodstream, they reach all areas of the body – making chemotherapy very effective for treating cancers that spread widely, such as NHL in children. Chemo drugs may be given by mouth, by injection into the vein or muscle (IV), or directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (lumbar puncture) if the lymphoma has reached the brain or spinal cord. Typically, children with NHL receive a combination of several chemotherapy drugs over a number of sessions. The specific drugs, doses, and duration of treatment depend on the type and stage of the disease.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, and it can be part of the treatment program for children with NHL. Sometimes it is used along with chemotherapy, particularly when the lymphoma has spread to the brain or spinal cord. Radiation may also be used to shrink tumors in the chest and relieve symptoms, or it may be given as a part of the treatment for children who are receiving high-dose chemo and a stem cell transplant. Our radiation oncologists have specialized techniques to determine the dose and volume of radiation so that it provides maximum benefits with minimal long-term effects for the overall health of the child.
Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and destroy lymphoma cells without damaging normal healthy cells. Monoclonal antibodies are one type of targeted immunotherapy drugs that can be useful against NHL; several monoclonal antibodies are currently in use to treat lymphoma in adults and children.
Bone marrow/stem cell transplant
Children with NHL that is not responding well to treatment or children who experience recurrent NHL after the initial treatment may require an autologous stem cell transplant (using the child’s own stem cells). During this procedure, diseased bone marrow cells are replaced by specialized stem cells that grow and restore the body’s normal blood cells.
Immunotherapy – CAR-T cell therapy
Immunotherapy is the use of customized drugs to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells more efficiently. CAR-T cell therapy is an innovative form of immunotherapy, which involves altering the child’s T cells so that they are specially programmed to destroy the lymphoma cells. It is sometimes used to treat children with NHL.
Holistic treatments at Sheba
When our Sheba doctors personalize cancer treatment for your child’s NHL, we consider much more than just the cancer. We pay attention to your child’s quality of life, always striving to provide as comfortable, pain-free, and efficient an experience as possible. We offer a variety of support services on campus for children and their families, including social workers, alternative therapies, and nutrition counseling. Our compassionate team is here to answer your questions so that you and your child understand exactly what to expect – every step of the way.