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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Table 1. Incidence and Age Distribution of Specific Types of NHLa continued...

Prognostic factors for childhood NHL include the following:

  • Age: NHL in infants is rare (1% in Berlin-Frankfurt-Munster [BFM] trials from 1986 to 2002).[5] In this retrospective review, the outcome for infants was inferior compared with the outcome for older patients with NHL.[5]

    Adolescents have been reported to have inferior outcome compared with younger children.[10,11,12,13] A review of survival for various subtypes of NHL in children and adolescents between 1986 and 2007 has been reported by the BFM group.[13] Event-free survival (EFS) was 79% for adolescents and 85% for children. This adverse affect of age appears to be most pronounced for adolescents with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma compared with children with these diagnoses.[13] The poorer outcome of patients older than 15 years appears to be attributable primarily to patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.[10] On the other hand, for patients with Burkitt and Burkitt-like lymphoma on the FAB LMB 96 (COG-C5961) clinical trial, adolescent age (≥ 15 years) was not an independent risk factor for inferior outcome, with 3-year EFS of 89% ± 1.0% for children younger than 15 years and 84% ± 3.4% for patients aged 15 years and older.[14]

  • Site of disease: In general, patients with low-stage disease (i.e., single extra-abdominal/extrathoracic tumor or totally resected intra-abdominal tumor) have an excellent prognosis (a 5-year survival rate of approximately 90%), regardless of histology.[15,16,17,18,19,20] Patients with NHL arising in bone have an excellent prognosis, regardless of histology.[21,22] Testicular involvement does not affect prognosis.[16,17,23] As opposed to adults, mediastinal involvement in children and adolescents with nonlymphoblastic NHL results in an inferior outcome.[10,14,15,18] For patients with primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, 3-year EFS is 50% to 70%,[14,15,18,24] and for patients with central nervous system (CNS) disease at presentation, the 3-year EFS is 70%.[14,18,25]

    In anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a retrospective study by the European Intergroup for Childhood NHL (EICNHL) found a high-risk group of patients defined by involvement of mediastinum, skin, or viscera.[26] An immune response against the ALK protein (i.e., anti-ALK antibody titer) appears to correlate with lower clinical stage and absence of these clinical risk features (mediastinal and visceral organ involvement) and predicts relapse risk but not overall survival.[27] However, in the CCG-5941 study for anaplastic large cell lymphoma patients, only bone marrow involvement predicted inferior progression-free survival.[28][Level of evidence: 2A] Patients with leukemic involvement (>25% blasts in marrow) or CNS involvement at diagnosis require intensive therapy.[17,25,29] Although these intensive therapies have improved the outcome for patients with high-stage (stage III or IV) or advanced-stage disease, patients who present with CNS disease have the worst outcome.[17,25,29] The combination of CNS involvement and marrow disease appears to impact outcome the most for Burkitt lymphoma/leukemia.[25] Patients with leukemic disease only, and no CNS disease, had a 3-year EFS of 90%, while patients with CNS disease at presentation had a 70% 3-year EFS.[25]

  • Chromosomal abnormalities: Though data for cytogenetics is less robust than for childhood leukemia, some chromosomal abnormalities have been reported to have prognostic value.
    • For pediatric Burkitt lymphoma patients, secondary cytogenetic abnormalities, other than c-myc rearrangement, are associated with an inferior outcome,[30,31] and cytogenetic abnormalities involving gain of 7q or deletion of 13q appear to have an inferior outcome on current chemotherapy protocols.[31,32]
    • For pediatric patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and chromosomal rearrangement at MYC (8q24), outcome appears to be lower.[31]
    • For pediatric patients with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 6q was associated with an increased risk of relapse.[33]
  • Tumor burden: A surrogate for tumor burden (i.e., elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase) has been shown to be prognostic in many studies.[14,15,18,24]

    More recently, detection of minimal disease at diagnosis or minimal residual disease (MRD) appears to be prognostic in most subtypes of childhood NHL. In a retrospective subset analysis, there was evidence that submicroscopic bone marrow and peripheral blood involvement, detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from NPM-ALK, was found in approximately 50% of patients and correlated with clinical stage;[34] marrow involvement detected by PCR was associated with a 50% cumulative incidence of relapse. The prognostic role of MRD in the treatment of Burkitt leukemia remains unclear.[35,36,37]

  • Response to therapy: One of the most important predictive factors for Burkitt lymphoma/leukemia is response to the initial prophase treatment; poor responders (i.e., <20% resolution of disease) had an EFS of 30%.[15] Results from two studies suggest inferior outcome for patients with Burkitt leukemia that had detectable MRD after induction chemotherapy.[35,36]


  1. Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al.: Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2625-34, 2010.
  2. Guidelines for the pediatric cancer center and role of such centers in diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics Section Statement Section on Hematology/Oncology. Pediatrics 99 (1): 139-41, 1997.
  3. Percy CL, Smith MA, Linet M, et al.: Lymphomas and reticuloendothelial neoplasms. In: Ries LA, Smith MA, Gurney JG, et al., eds.: Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER Program 1975-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, 1999. NIH Pub.No. 99-4649., pp 35-50. Also available online. Last accessed April 04, 2013.
  4. Sandlund JT, Downing JR, Crist WM: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in childhood. N Engl J Med 334 (19): 1238-48, 1996.
  5. Mann G, Attarbaschi A, Burkhardt B, et al.: Clinical characteristics and treatment outcome of infants with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Br J Haematol 139 (3): 443-9, 2007.
  6. Jaffe ES, Harris NL, Stein H, et al.: Introduction and overview of the classification of the lymphoid neoplasms. In: Swerdlow SH, Campo E, Harris NL, et al., eds.: WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues. 4th ed. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2008, pp 157-66.
  7. Mbulaiteye SM, Biggar RJ, Bhatia K, et al.: Sporadic childhood Burkitt lymphoma incidence in the United States during 1992-2005. Pediatr Blood Cancer 53 (3): 366-70, 2009.
  8. Gutiérrez MI, Bhatia K, Barriga F, et al.: Molecular epidemiology of Burkitt's lymphoma from South America: differences in breakpoint location and Epstein-Barr virus association from tumors in other world regions. Blood 79 (12): 3261-6, 1992.
  9. Landmann E, Oschlies I, Zimmermann M, et al.: Secondary non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in children and adolescents after childhood cancer other than NHL. Br J Haematol 143 (3): 387-94, 2008.
  10. Burkhardt B, Zimmermann M, Oschlies I, et al.: The impact of age and gender on biology, clinical features and treatment outcome of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in childhood and adolescence. Br J Haematol 131 (1): 39-49, 2005.
  11. Cairo MS, Sposto R, Perkins SL, et al.: Burkitt's and Burkitt-like lymphoma in children and adolescents: a review of the Children's Cancer Group experience. Br J Haematol 120 (4): 660-70, 2003.
  12. Patte C, Auperin A, Michon J, et al.: The Société Française d'Oncologie Pédiatrique LMB89 protocol: highly effective multiagent chemotherapy tailored to the tumor burden and initial response in 561 unselected children with B-cell lymphomas and L3 leukemia. Blood 97 (11): 3370-9, 2001.
  13. Burkhardt B, Oschlies I, Klapper W, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in adolescents: experiences in 378 adolescent NHL patients treated according to pediatric NHL-BFM protocols. Leukemia 25 (1): 153-60, 2011.
  14. Cairo MS, Sposto R, Gerrard M, et al.: Advanced stage, increased lactate dehydrogenase, and primary site, but not adolescent age (≥ 15 years), are associated with an increased risk of treatment failure in children and adolescents with mature B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: results of the FAB LMB 96 study. J Clin Oncol 30 (4): 387-93, 2012.
  15. Patte C, Auperin A, Gerrard M, et al.: Results of the randomized international FAB/LMB96 trial for intermediate risk B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents: it is possible to reduce treatment for the early responding patients. Blood 109 (7): 2773-80, 2007.
  16. Link MP, Shuster JJ, Donaldson SS, et al.: Treatment of children and young adults with early-stage non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. N Engl J Med 337 (18): 1259-66, 1997.
  17. Reiter A, Schrappe M, Ludwig WD, et al.: Intensive ALL-type therapy without local radiotherapy provides a 90% event-free survival for children with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma: a BFM group report. Blood 95 (2): 416-21, 2000.
  18. Woessmann W, Seidemann K, Mann G, et al.: The impact of the methotrexate administration schedule and dose in the treatment of children and adolescents with B-cell neoplasms: a report of the BFM Group Study NHL-BFM95. Blood 105 (3): 948-58, 2005.
  19. Gerrard M, Cairo MS, Weston C, et al.: Excellent survival following two courses of COPAD chemotherapy in children and adolescents with resected localized B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: results of the FAB/LMB 96 international study. Br J Haematol 141 (6): 840-7, 2008.
  20. Seidemann K, Tiemann M, Schrappe M, et al.: Short-pulse B-non-Hodgkin lymphoma-type chemotherapy is efficacious treatment for pediatric anaplastic large cell lymphoma: a report of the Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster Group Trial NHL-BFM 90. Blood 97 (12): 3699-706, 2001.
  21. Lones MA, Perkins SL, Sposto R, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma arising in bone in children and adolescents is associated with an excellent outcome: a Children's Cancer Group report. J Clin Oncol 20 (9): 2293-301, 2002.
  22. Zhao XF, Young KH, Frank D, et al.: Pediatric primary bone lymphoma-diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: morphologic and immunohistochemical characteristics of 10 cases. Am J Clin Pathol 127 (1): 47-54, 2007.
  23. Dalle JH, Mechinaud F, Michon J, et al.: Testicular disease in childhood B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: the French Society of Pediatric Oncology experience. J Clin Oncol 19 (9): 2397-403, 2001.
  24. Reiter A, Schrappe M, Tiemann M, et al.: Improved treatment results in childhood B-cell neoplasms with tailored intensification of therapy: A report of the Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster Group Trial NHL-BFM 90. Blood 94 (10): 3294-306, 1999.
  25. Cairo MS, Gerrard M, Sposto R, et al.: Results of a randomized international study of high-risk central nervous system B non-Hodgkin lymphoma and B acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and adolescents. Blood 109 (7): 2736-43, 2007.
  26. Le Deley MC, Reiter A, Williams D, et al.: Prognostic factors in childhood anaplastic large cell lymphoma: results of a large European intergroup study. Blood 111 (3): 1560-6, 2008.
  27. Ait-Tahar K, Damm-Welk C, Burkhardt B, et al.: Correlation of the autoantibody response to the ALK oncoantigen in pediatric anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma with tumor dissemination and relapse risk. Blood 115 (16): 3314-9, 2010.
  28. Lowe EJ, Sposto R, Perkins SL, et al.: Intensive chemotherapy for systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma in children and adolescents: final results of Children's Cancer Group Study 5941. Pediatr Blood Cancer 52 (3): 335-9, 2009.
  29. Salzburg J, Burkhardt B, Zimmermann M, et al.: Prevalence, clinical pattern, and outcome of CNS involvement in childhood and adolescent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma differ by non-Hodgkin's lymphoma subtype: a Berlin-Frankfurt-Munster Group Report. J Clin Oncol 25 (25): 3915-22, 2007.
  30. Onciu M, Schlette E, Zhou Y, et al.: Secondary chromosomal abnormalities predict outcome in pediatric and adult high-stage Burkitt lymphoma. Cancer 107 (5): 1084-92, 2006.
  31. Poirel HA, Cairo MS, Heerema NA, et al.: Specific cytogenetic abnormalities are associated with a significantly inferior outcome in children and adolescents with mature B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: results of the FAB/LMB 96 international study. Leukemia 23 (2): 323-31, 2009.
  32. Nelson M, Perkins SL, Dave BJ, et al.: An increased frequency of 13q deletions detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization and its impact on survival in children and adolescents with Burkitt lymphoma: results from the Children's Oncology Group study CCG-5961. Br J Haematol 148 (4): 600-10, 2010.
  33. Burkhardt B, Moericke A, Klapper W, et al.: Pediatric precursor T lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma: Differences in the common regions with loss of heterozygosity at chromosome 6q and their prognostic impact. Leuk Lymphoma 49 (3): 451-61, 2008.
  34. Damm-Welk C, Busch K, Burkhardt B, et al.: Prognostic significance of circulating tumor cells in bone marrow or peripheral blood as detected by qualitative and quantitative PCR in pediatric NPM-ALK-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. Blood 110 (2): 670-7, 2007.
  35. Mussolin L, Pillon M, Conter V, et al.: Prognostic role of minimal residual disease in mature B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia of childhood. J Clin Oncol 25 (33): 5254-61, 2007.
  36. Mussolin L, Pillon M, d'Amore ES, et al.: Minimal disseminated disease in high-risk Burkitt's lymphoma identifies patients with different prognosis. J Clin Oncol 29 (13): 1779-84, 2011.
  37. Shiramizu B, Goldman S, Kusao I, et al.: Minimal disease assessment in the treatment of children and adolescents with intermediate-risk (Stage III/IV) B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a children's oncology group report. Br J Haematol 153 (6): 758-63, 2011.

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Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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