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Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)

Langerhans cell histiocytosis is a type of cancer that can damage tissue or cause lesions to form in one or more places in the body.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare cancer that begins in LCH cells (a type of dendritic cell which fights infection). Sometimes there are mutations (changes) in LCH cells as they form. These include mutations of the BRAFgene. These changes may make the LCH cells grow and multiply quickly. This causes LCH cells to build up in certain parts of the body, where they can damage tissue or form lesions.

LCH is not a disease of the Langerhans cells that normally occur in the skin.

LCH may occur at any age, but is most common in young children. Treatment of LCH in children is different from treatment of LCH in adults. The treatments for LCH in children and adults are described in separate sections of this summary.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood Langerhans cell histiocytosis. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your child's doctor about clinical trials that may be right for your child. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Family history or having a parent who was exposed to certain chemicals may increase the risk of LCH.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for LCH include the following:

  • Having a parent who was exposed to certain chemicals such as benzene.
  • Having a parent who was exposed to metal, granite, or wood dust in the workplace.
  • A family history of cancer, including LCH.
  • Having infections as a newborn.
  • Having a personal history or family history of thyroid disease.
  • Smoking, especially in young adults.
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