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Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children

Social, Emotional, and Other Issues in Treating Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Some children and teens may have emotional or psychological issues that need to be addressed during and after treatment. Factors such as the child’s age when diagnosed and the extent of treatment play a role here.

Having some anxiety or other emotional reaction after treatment is normal, but feeling overly worried, depressed, or angry can affect many aspects of a young person’s growth. It can get in the way of relationships, school, work, and other aspects of life.

Parents and other family members, especially siblings, can also be affected, both emotionally and in other ways. Some common family concerns during treatment include financial stresses, traveling to and staying near the cancer center, the need for family members to take time off from work, the possible loss of a job, taking care of other siblings, and the need for home schooling. Social workers and other professionals at cancer centers can help families sort through these issues.

Centers that treat many children and teens with lymphoma might have programs to introduce new patients to others who have finished their treatment. This can give patients and their families an idea of what to expect during and after treatment, which is very important. Seeing another patient with lymphoma doing well after treatment is often helpful. Support groups also might be helpful.

Concerns after treatment is finished

During treatment, children and their families tend to focus on the daily aspects of getting through it and beating the lymphoma. But once treatment is finished, emotional concerns can arise. Some could last a long time. They can include things like:

  • Dealing with physical changes that can result from the treatment
  • Worrying about the lymphoma returning or new health problems developing
  • Feeling resentment for having had lymphoma or having to go through treatment when others do not
  • Having concerns about being treated differently or discriminated against (by friends, classmates, coworkers, employers, etc.)
  • Having concerns about dating, marrying, and having a family later

For teens, another possible issue is having to rely more on their parents at a time when they are normally becoming more independent.

No one chooses to have lymphoma, but for many childhood lymphoma survivors, the experience eventually can be positive, helping to establish strong self-values. Other survivors may have a harder time recovering, adjusting to life after cancer, and moving on.

Returning to school

Many experts recommend that school-aged children attend school as much as possible. This can help them maintain a daily routine and keep their friends informed about what is happening. But they might also have some problems functioning normally and with school work. These issues can often be overcome with support and encouragement. Doctors and other members of the health care team can often recommend special support programs and services to help children and teens after treatment.

Some cancer centers have a school re-entry program that can help in these situations. In this program, health educators visit the school and tell students about the diagnosis, treatment, and changes that the child with cancer may go through. They can also answer any questions from teachers and classmates.

You can learn more about some of these issues in When Your Child Has Cancer, When Your Child Is Going Through Cancer Treatment, and When Your Child’s Treatment Ends.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: August 10, 2021

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