Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, and it can affect children of all ages. When a child is diagnosed with lymphoma, it can be a frightening and stressful experience for the whole family. Understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available is the best way to help a child cope with this condition.
What is Childhood Lymphoma?
Childhood lymphoma is a cancer that starts within the lymphatic system, which is part of our body’s immune system. The lymphatic system helps to fight infection and is made up of organs, lymph nodes, and vessels that are spread throughout the body.
Lymphoma is the most common form of cancer in school-age children, with around one in every 20,000 children being diagnosed each year. While the causes of lymphoma are largely unknown, research suggests that there are certain things that can increase the risk of developing this form of cancer. These include:
- Inherited genetic mutations
- Exposure to certain chemicals or treatments
- Certain viral infections
- Weakened immune system
Symptoms of Childhood Lymphoma
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lymphoma in children, as prompt diagnoses and treatment could mean the difference between life and death. Common symptoms of childhood lymphoma include:
- Abdominal, chest, or neck pain
- Feeling of fullness
- Swelling in lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Night Sweats
Diagnosis of Childhood Lymphoma
If you suspect that your child may have lymphoma, your doctor will first do a physical exam and discuss the signs and symptoms you have observed. They will then order a range of tests including:
- Blood tests – to check for anemia, abnormal white blood cell count, or other abnormalities.
- Lymph node biopsy – to remove a sample of a lymph node for examination under a microscope.
- Bone marrow biopsy – to check for cancer cells in the bone marrow.
- CT or MRI scan – to look for areas of lymphoma in the body.
Treatment of Childhood Lymphoma
Treatment for childhood lymphoma depends on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the child’s age and overall health. Common treatments may include:
- Chemotherapy – to use anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy – to use high-energy beams of radiation to kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy – to use drugs to boost the immune system to fight cancer cells.
- Surgery – to remove any lymph nodes that may contain cancer cells.
Managing Health After Childhood Lymphoma
It is important for children diagnosed with lymphoma to be monitored for any possible long-term effects of the treatment. This may include regular checkups with your doctor and blood tests to check for any recurrence of the cancer. Some lifestyle measures can also be taken to help reduce the risk of developing cancer in the future, such as:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Staying physically active
- Getting plenty of rest
- Being aware of any potential infection triggers
- Limiting contact with people who are sick
Childhood lymphoma is a serious condition that can trigger a range of feelings and worries, not only in the child but in the whole family. However, it is important to remember that most children diagnosed with this condition respond well to treatment and can live a normal, healthy life.
By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available for childhood lymphoma, it is possible to get the best care for your child and manage their health so that they can lead a happy, confident life.