Childhood Lymphoma Expertise
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes. It affects lymphocyte cells from the immune system that usually help the body fight illness. The two categories of lymphoma are:
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
The two types of lymphoma are differentiated by the type of lymphocyte that is affected, and each type is treated differently.
Blood tests, a biopsy of cancer cells, and imaging exams such as CT and PET are used to confirm which type of lymphoma your child has, whether it is related to a genetic change, and where it is located in your child’s body. The comprehensive evaluation allows us to develop a personalized treatment plan for your child, as well as a follow-up plan for long-term cancer screening based on your child’s genetic makeup.
Childhood Lymphoma Treatments
Your child’s treatment may include one or more therapies, depending on their needs. Most often, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy alone, while Hodgkin lymphoma may require more than one therapy. We design treatment to offer the most benefit, while minimizing the risk of long-term side effects. Your care team will explain all the treatment options and help prepare you and your child for what to expect.
The goal of chemotherapy is to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing and prevent the cancer from coming back. Chemotherapy is delivered through an IV infusion, in a pill or liquid that is swallowed, or via an injection. Some children may have chemotherapy treatments injected directly into their spinal fluid, called intrathecal chemotherapy.
External-beam radiation therapy uses a machine to focus high-energy X-ray beams to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Advanced imaging techniques determine the exact location of the tumor to minimize damage to surrounding tissues.
Your child’s stem cells may be harvested before treatment begins. They will be stored for use after chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy as many cancer cells as possible. An IV stem cell infusion then replaces your child’s bone marrow and restores healthy blood cells. Most of the time, the stem cells used for transplant are your child’s own cells, so there's little risk that your child's body will reject the transplant.
Your Child Benefits from Our Team Approach
Once we’ve confirmed your child’s diagnosis, the pediatric oncologist will build a team personalized for your child. Their team will include a medical oncologist -- a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with chemotherapy and other medications -- and possibly a radiation oncologist or stem cell transplant specialist for some types of Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Our doctors also work closely with pediatric oncology nurses, pediatricians, pediatric psychologists, and other specialists to ensure your child gets complete care.
Expert Pediatric Lymphoma Doctors
Our lymphoma doctors are also researchers who are dedicated to improving care for childhood cancer. They collaborate with pediatric cancer experts worldwide through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child benefits from the combined knowledge of leading cancer care experts and has access to the latest lymphoma therapies.
Care During Treatment
We help make your child as comfortable as possible. Our team focuses on managing your child’s symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect their quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and more to make it easier for your child to get through treatment.
Family and Support Services
We treat your whole child -- not just their disease. During your child’s care, you have access to a variety of services that are designed to make their experience as positive as possible and provide support to your family.
Extended Cancer Outpatient Services
We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t have to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when your doctor’s office is closed.
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like children, but adult care might not be quite right for them either. Our Teen and Young Adult Oncology Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services to your child’s unique needs, including guidance to help them cope with the impact of treatment on their high school or college activities and their social life.
Childhood Cancer Survivorship Care
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings and ongoing surveillance. Our pediatric oncologists and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready. We refer you to subspecialists within the Duke system if your child needs additional services. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.
When your child is fighting cancer, it’s difficult for the entire family, so we try to make it a little easier on you. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during therapy or during a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. Plus, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.
Care Coordination and Support
It’s helpful to have a team on your side to help you manage your child’s care. Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.
Enjoy a comfortable place to relax at the hospital. You can grab a light meal, shower, do laundry, or use a computer with internet access. Staffed by volunteers, the family room is here to make your time at the hospital a little more comfortable.