Lymphomas are tumours of the lymphatic system – the spleen, bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Since lymph tissue is found all around the body, Hodgkin lymphoma can have a number of potential start points and can spread to almost any tissue or organ.
Hodgkin lymphoma (also known as Hodgkins lymphoma or Hodgkins Disease), most commonly affects children, and particularly, teenagers between 14-19 years old.
The risk of Hodgkin lymphoma is thought to be increased if a child contracts a disease that weakens their immune system.
Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma include infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, infection with HIV...
Classical Hodgkin lymphoma usually first appears as a painless swelling of one gland, or a group of lymph glands – often in the neck, chest, underarm or groin. (It’s important to remember that glands can also become swollen with common infections, such as those causing a sore throat or a cold.)
If glands in the chest are affected, a cough or breathlessness can result due to pressure on the airways.
Diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma is done by physical examination (e.g. feeling swollen lymph nodes) and biopsy (removing cells from the lump or lymph node for microscopic examination).
Patients may also undergo imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, PET scans and blood tests to determine how far the lymphoma has spread throughout the body.
Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is based on the type and location of the disease, and its stage, as well as factors such as the age and general health of the child. In some cases, treatment for teenagers and young adults may more closely resemble an adult treatment regime.
If the Hodgkin Lymphoma is in its early stages and is considered relatively low-risk, it will be treated with a selection of anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs, and occasionally paired with radiation therapy.
As with other types of cancer, children treated for Hodgkin lymphoma need to have regular follow-up visits to hospital for several years.
There are a number of potential side effects that can appear months or years after a child’s cancer treatment regime has ended (late effects), and can include issues with physical development..