What’s new in research and treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children?
Research on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is being done at many medical centers, university hospitals, and other institutions around the world.
As noted in the section, “Do we know what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children?” scientists are making great progress in understanding how changes in the DNA inside normal lymphocytes can cause them to develop into lymphoma cells.
Understanding the gene changes that often occur in lymphoma cells can help explain why these cells grow too quickly, live too long, and do not develop into normal, mature cells. This information is being used to develop new treatments for lymphoma.
This progress has also led to vastly improved and very sensitive tests for detecting and monitoring this disease. Tests such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can identify lymphoma cells based on some of these gene changes. This test is useful in determining how completely the lymphoma has been destroyed by treatment and whether a relapse is likely if further treatment is not given.
Clinical trials of new treatments
Most children with NHL are treated at major medical centers, where treatment often involves taking part in clinical trials to get the most up-to-date care. Several important questions are now being studied in clinical trials, such as:
- Can early stage (stages I and II) lymphomas be treated with less intense chemotherapy regimens?
- What is the best length of treatment of each type of NHL?
- Can less intense treatment provide as good an outcome as the highly intense treatments and thus help children possibly avoid some long-term side effects?
- Can new chemotherapy drugs and new combinations of drugs improve cure rates?
- Can the safety and effectiveness of stem cell transplants be improved on?
- Can newer, targeted drugs such as monoclonal antibodies be added to current treatments to make them better? (See “Other drugs for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children.”)
Last Medical Review: 03/07/2014
Last Revised: 01/06/2015