Hodgkin Disease Overview

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Treating Hodgkin Disease TOPICS

Treating Hodgkin disease in children

Treatment for Hodgkin disease in children is slightly different from the treatment used for adults. In most cases, childhood cancers tend to respond better to chemo. Children’s bodies also tend to withstand chemotherapy (chemo) better than adults. But because chemo can have some long-term side effects, children who survive their cancer need careful attention for the rest of their lives.

Childhood cancers are treated at special centers

Children and teens with cancer and their families have special needs that are best met by children’s cancer centers that work closely with the child’s main doctor. These centers offer the advantage of a team of experts with experience in treating children. They know the special needs of children with cancer. The team can include (besides doctors and nurses) psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, teachers, and others.

Most children with cancer in the United States are treated at a children’s cancer center that is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). These centers are linked to either a university or a children’s hospital.

In these centers, doctors treating children with Hodgkin disease often use treatment plans that are part of clinical trials. The purpose of these studies is to find the best treatment that causes the fewest side effects.

Treatment differences

If the child is past puberty, the treatment is often the same as that given to adults. But if the child’s body is still growing, then the doctor is more likely to use chemo instead of radiation because radiation can affect bone and muscle growth. The goal of treatment for children is to cure the cancer without causing long-term problems.

Since radiation treatment in large doses can keep children from reaching their normal size, when children with Hodgkin disease are treated with radiation the dose is kept low. In order to cure children, doctors often combine radiation in low doses with more intense chemo. The success of this approach has been very good, even for children with more advanced disease.

Last Medical Review: 02/05/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014