What is Pediatric Hodgkin's Lymphoma?

Compared to its notoriety, Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) is an extraordinarily rare cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 9,000 people will be diagnosed in the United States this year. That's just slightly more than the number of cases of testicular cancer.

Despite the extreme rarity of the disease, Hodgkin's lymphoma is familiar to many people, if only marginally, because a number of famous people have developed the disease, typically younger people, and they have survived. Thus the 'fame' of Hodgkin's is derived largely because of its treatability and even curability. Patients diagnosed with early-stage, favorable Hodgkin's lymphoma face one of the best prognoses across all cancers: around 9 in every 10 of those patients will be cured with standard therapy. That's a quantum leap compared to 60 years ago, when a Hodgkin's diagnosis was a death sentence.

Treatments

New treatment regimens are being developed all the time for Hodgkin's, chiefly with the aim of maintaining efficacy while lowering toxicity, such as the ABVE-PE regimen developed a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, the likes of the German Hodgkin Study Group continue to refine treatment in Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is a great success story in cancer, one of the few science can accurately make a claim to.

Diagnosis Age

As mentioned, Hodgkin's is mostly a younger person's cancer. The median age of a person diagnosed with HL is 38, while almost 13% of newly diagnosed patients are under the age of 20 and over 44% are under age of 34.

Thus, pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma is no different than the Hodgkin's diagnosed in a person of any other age—the term ' pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma' merely refers to patients given the diagnosis who are younger than their early 20's. In fact, there appears to be little to no biologic difference between Hodgkin's that affects a person in middle-age and a person under the age of 22.

Because Hodgkin's does affect children, it occasionally gains such a designation. But treatment modalities for Hodgkin's patients tend to be exactly the same or very similar to one another, regardless of age. Changes may be made in treatments to take into consideration certain issues, such as exposing children to chemotherapy drugs or radiation that might affect their ability to have children in the future, or if the patient is older and has pulmonary issues, changes may be made to the chemotherapy regimen.

But in the end, pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma is simply Hodgkin's lymphoma that is affecting a person under the age of 22 or 23, and nothing more.

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