Lymphoma in adolescents and young adults

Semin Oncol. 2009 Oct;36(5):381-418. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2009.07.009.


Non-Hodgkin (NHL) and Hodgkin (HL) lymphomas are represented prominently in the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population. These diseases represent 11% of total cancer diagnoses in children, 4% in those 40 years of age and older, and 13% in AYA (aged 15-39 years). Although age-adjusted incidence rates of NHL increase with age, the more aggressive lymphomas are seen more commonly in the younger population with a transition to low-grade, indolent subtypes as the population ages. Burkitt lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, lymphoblastic lymphoma, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma make up the most common subtypes in the AYA population, although within the subgroup age 30-39 years, follicular lymphoma becomes more prominent. As a result, much of the armamentarium in the treatment of aggressive NHL and HL in adults is based on data from pediatric clinical trials. There are obvious limitations to this approach. It is vital that we gain a more thorough understanding of the biology and therapeutic responsiveness of NHL and HL in the AYA population. Thus, we must leverage the large prospective and retrospective trials that have been completed to date and redirect our approaches to cancer care in this unique population. We review the epidemiological data on NHL and HL from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registries as a cornerstone for a comparative analysis of therapeutic outcomes available in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma* / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma* / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma* / pathology
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • SEER Program
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult