Signs and symptoms

  • Painless lymphadenopathy
  • Fevers
  • Night sweats or itching
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal swelling or early satiety
  • Cough or breathlessness
  • Tiredness

Lymphoma is the third most common type of childhood cancer. It accounts for around 10% of cases (160 children a year in the UK) and occurs in two main types: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


Hodgkin lymphoma

​Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is distinguished from other types of lymphoma by the type of cancer cell formed – the Reed-Sternberg cell.

The exact cause of HL is unknown but there is increasing evidence that infections such infectious mononucleosis may play a part, especially when it occurs in children. 

  • HL accounts for 41% of all childhood lymphoma diagnoses

  • It affects predominantly older children

  • Male to female preponderance of 2:1

  • Five year survival rates are very good at 96%

​The mainstay of treatment is chemotherapy. A half of cases also require radiotherapy dependent on stage and histology.


Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

​Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) has 2 forms: B cell NHL (usually in the abdomen, neck or head) and T cell NHL (usually in the chest).

  • ​NHL accounts for about 60% of lymphoma in children
  • Around 85 children are affected each year in the UK 

  • NHL is rare in infants and has a male: female preponderance of 2:1

  • Long-term immunosuppression is thought to be a risk factor for children to develop NHL

  • 5 year survival is still relatively good compared to other childhood cancer types at 88%

​Treatment depends on stage and histology. B-cell NHL usually requires 4 – 8 courses of intensive chemotherapy, whereas treatment for T-cell NHL can take 2 years.