Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Also known as: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, NHL, lymphoma

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

There are two broad types of lymphomas; Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They grow in different ways and they respond to treatment differently.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon type of cancer in children. It starts in the body’s lymphatic system (lymphocyte cells) which are part of the body’s defenses against infections (immunity). Lymphocytes are found in lymphoid tissue which includes lymph nodes and organs like the adenoids/tonsils, spleen, thymus and bone marrow.

What causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

The exact cause is not known. It appears that some children possibly inherit an abnormal chromosome or gene that can be passed along from parents to children. There seems to be an increased risk when children are born with other types of inherited diseases, when a family member has the disease, or when some viral infections (like EBV) are present.

What are the signs/symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

Signs and symptoms vary widely depending on where the disease presents in the body. There may be  no symptoms or non-Hodgkin lymphoma might present with non-tender swollen lymph nodes. Common signs and symptoms include a swollen belly, trouble breathing, coughing, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue and fever.

What are non-Hodgkin lymphoma care options?

Chemotherapy is the main treatment, though radiation therapy and other drugs known as biological therapy may be used to kill the cancer. In some cases, a stem cell transplant may be needed to help the child’s body produce healthy blood cells.

Nicklaus Children's Hospital has a full team of pediatric specialists needed to manage all the needs of a child and their family.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: January 06, 2021 04:49 PM

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