Children undergo many of the same types of treatment that adults do. However, due to their young age, children usually recover more quickly than adults.
The treatments that a child may face include:
- Watch and wait
- If your child has an indolent (slow growing) cancer with little to no symptoms, doctors may monitor them for a while without treatment. When the disease progresses to a stage that is easily treatable, then other options will be pursued.
- These drugs are toxic to cancer cells. There are many regimens, such as CHOP, that have proven successful in childhood lymphomas. Your child may experience symptoms due to treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, changes in taste buds, loss of hair, or a drop in white blood cells. To combat these symptoms, ask your doctor about anti-nausea medications; feed your child food they can taste instead of insisting on vegetables or other bland food (use vitamin supplements if the doctor approves to ensure good nutrition); buy colorful, fun wigs; and keep your child away from other children when their blood counts are low, since their risk of catching a virus is higher.
- Stem cell transplants
- In cases of very strong chemotherapy, stem cell transplants help patients recover their immune systems. Since your child will be in isolation during a stem cell transplant, make sure that they have plenty of games, movies, books, or other forms of entertainment.
- High-energy X-rays are beamed into different areas of the body to kill tumor cells. This can cause symptoms similar to chemotherapy.
- While this treatment is new and is being studied in childhood patients, it shows promise. Immunotherapy uses antibodies to target tumor cells for removal by your child’s immune system. In some cases, the antibodies are laced with radioactive compounds that help kill the tumors.
- Clinical trials
- New drugs are being studied for many types of cancers. If you feel that your child will get the best care from a new drug regimen, talk to your doctor about clinical trials.
It is important to note that each patient may have one of these treatments, or they may be used in combination. Talk to your child’s doctor for more information on the specific treatments used for your kid’s cancer. Or, see the following link on the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) website for in depth treatment descriptions: Childhood Lymphoma: Resources Page.