Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a rare form of cancer in children, accounting for only four percent of all childhood cancers. This type of cancer effects the lymphatic system. This system helps your body fight off infection. Lymph nodes can be found all over your body, and are clustered in many areas like the abdomen, pelvis, under the arms, in the neck, and groin areas.
Symptoms for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma usually occur depending on where the disease begins. Lymph nodes may become noticeably swollen and your child may feel very tired. Often fevers spike. For patients whose cancer begins in the abdomen or pelvis, symptoms include distended belly, and pain with urination and bowel movements. There are other more severe symptoms involving difficulty breathing when cancer begins near the thymus.
There are several types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well: Burkitt's lymphoma, large-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and lymphoblastic non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Although the exact cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is not known, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, there appears to be a slight risk in children who have had the Epstein-Barr virus, have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), have received an organ transplant, have immune deficiency disease, or had another type of cancer.
There are four stages to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma:
- Stage I occurs in only one area outside the chest or abdomen.
- Stage II occurs in one area and surrounding lymph nodes, or it may be found in two or more lymph nodes or other areas on the same side of the diaphragm. The tumor may also began in the digestive system and surrounding lymph nodes may or may not be cancerous.
- Stage III occurs in tissue or lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm. Cancer may also start in the chest, or many places the abdomen, and/or around the spine.
- Stage IV occurs in the bone marrow, spinal cord, and/or brain.