The term childhood lymphoma refers to cancers that originate in the body's lymphatic tissues during childhood and include the lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, and bone marrow, as well as the lymph vessels that attach them. Although there are many types of cancer that eventually spread to parts of the lymphatic system, lymphomas are distinctive because they originate there. Statistics report that there are about 1,700 children below 20 years of age who are diagnosed with lymphoma each year in the United States. Childhood lymphomas are divided into two basic categories, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, based on the appearance of their cancerous cells, and is the third most common type of cancer in children.
Some of the children have other nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue, poor appetite, itching, or hives. They also show symptoms such as unexplained fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
In the United States, there are nearly 500 new cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma detected each year in children. This disease occurs generally after 3 years of age in children. NHL is more common than Hodgkin's disease in children younger than 15 years of age.
Although there are no lifestyle factors that have been definitely linked to childhood lymphomas, children who have received either chemotherapy or radiation treatments for other types of cancer are at a greater risk of developing lymphoma. The first important step in the diagnosis of the enlarged lymph node is a biopsy that involves the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the body.
Treatment of childhood lymphoma is largely determined by staging, a way to classify patients as per the spread of the disease at the time of diagnosis.
There are four stages of lymphoma, ranging from Stage I to Stage IV. This stage at diagnosis guides medical professionals deciding the type of therapy and helps doctors in prognosis. Treatment involves radiation, chemotherapy or both, depending on the type and stage of the cancer as well as the age and health of the child.
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