Survival Rates for Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Survival rates tell you what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell exactly what will happen with any person, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that treatment will be successful. Some parents might want to know the survival rates for their child’s cancer, and some might not. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to.

What is a survival rate?

Statistics on the outlook for a certain type of cancer are often given as survival rates. For example, the 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. A 5-year survival rate of 80% means that an estimated 80 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. Keep in mind, however, that many of these people live much longer than 5 years. 

Many cancer doctors prefer not to use the word “cure” when discussing cancer treatment and prognosis (outlook), because it can be hard to know for sure that all of the cancer is gone after treatment. But when it comes to children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), those who are still alive and free of lymphoma after 5 years are very likely to have been cured, as it’s rare for these cancers to return after this much time.

Cancer survival rates don’t tell the whole story

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of children who had the disease, but they can’t predict for sure what will happen in any particular child’s case. There are some limitations to keep in mind:

  • The outlook for children with NHL varies by the type and stage (extent) of the lymphoma. But other factors can also affect a child’s outlook, such as the location and size of the tumor(s), and how well the lymphoma responds to treatment. The outlook for each child is specific to their circumstances.
  • The numbers below are among the most current available. But to get these survival rates, doctors have to look at children were treated at least several years ago. As treatments are improving over time, children who are now being diagnosed with NHL may have a better outlook than these statistics show.

Your child’s doctor can tell you how these numbers might apply to your child’s particular situation.

Survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Advances in treatment have increased the overall survival rates for children with NHL dramatically in recent decades.  

The ranges of numbers given below are based on the results of several studies that have used different treatment regimens or included slightly different groups of patients.

Lymphoblastic lymphoma

With intensive treatment, the long-term survival rate for children with limited stage (stage I or II) lymphoblastic lymphoma is higher than 90%.

The long-term survival rate for more advanced (stage III or IV) lymphoblastic lymphomas is generally higher than 80%.

Burkitt and Burkitt-like lymphoma

Treatment of limited stage (stage I and II) Burkitt lymphomas is usually very successful, with a long-term survival rate of over 90%.

The long-term survival rate for children with more advanced (stage III or IV) Burkitt lymphoma ranges from about 80% to 90%.

Large cell lymphomas

The long-term survival rate is over 90% for limited stage (stage I and II) diffuse large B-cell lymphomas and is slightly lower for anaplastic large cell lymphomas.

The long-term survival rate for children with advanced (stage III or IV) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma ranges from about 80% to 90%.

For advanced anaplastic large cell lymphoma, the long-term survival rate is about 60% to 75%.

Remember, all of these survival rates are only estimates – they can’t predict what will happen with any child. We understand that these statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk to your child’s doctor to better understand your child's specific situation.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Kamdar KY, Sandlund JT, Bollard CM. Malignant lymphomas in childhood. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2013:1255−1266.

National Cancer Institute Physician Data Query (PDQ). Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment. 2016. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/hp/child-nhl-treatment-pdq on June 8, 2017.

Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al. Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: Challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol. 2010:28:2625–2634.

Last Medical Review: June 20, 2017 Last Revised: August 3, 2017

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