It’s a diagnosis no parent wants to hear—but doctors say there is good news for children who are diagnosed with lymphoma. “The bottom line is of the several that we treat they almost all can be cured,” explained Dr. Kelly Sawczyn, a pediatric oncologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Each year Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida sees around 35 new cancer patients. Of that number, about five children will have lymphoma. A diagnosis that’s typically more aggressive in children than in adults. “Because they tend to be more aggressive, they tend to grow quickly. So usually it’s an enlarging mass. This side looks fine, but this side has a growth,” said Dr. Sawcyzn.
Lymphoma can happen anywhere in the body, but the most common presentation in children is an enlarged growth on the neck or under the arm. “We don’t know what causes most childhood cancers. Lymphomas are probably not genetic. It’s usually something that the mutations are developing over time, and it leads to cancer. We don’t know why though,” she said.
Fortunately, most lymphomas are treatable in children. “it’s a very optimistic field. Not very many people view it that way from the outside, but it’s really quite optimistic that we can make a huge difference and cure these children,” said Dr. Sawczyn.
Lymphoma treatment typically includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy. “Our goal is that they are going to live to be 80 and 90 years old. There are some risks of having medical problems in the future, but we all have risks for health risks in the future,” she said.
Studies show 80 percent of all children diagnosed with cancer will be cured — positive news to families enduring a difficult diagnosis. time and money— but it can also help children develop a healthy lifestyle.