Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children and Adolescents: Progress Through Effective Collaboration, Current Knowledge, and Challenges Ahead

J Clin Oncol. 2015 Sep 20;33(27):2963-74. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.59.5827. Epub 2015 Aug 24.


Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the fourth most common malignancy in children, has an even higher incidence in adolescents, and is primarily represented by only a few histologic subtypes. Dramatic progress has been achieved, with survival rates exceeding 80%, in large part because of a better understanding of the biology of the different subtypes and national and international collaborations. Most patients with Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma are cured with short intensive pulse chemotherapy containing cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, and high-dose methotrexate. The benefit of the addition of rituximab has not been established except in the case of primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma. Lymphoblastic lymphoma is treated with intensive, semi-continuous, longer leukemia-derived protocols. Relapses in B-cell and lymphoblastic lymphomas are rare and infrequently curable, even with intensive approaches. Event-free survival rates of approximately 75% have been achieved in anaplastic large-cell lymphomas with various regimens that generally include a short intensive B-like regimen. Immunity seems to play an important role in prognosis and needs further exploration to determine its therapeutic application. ALK inhibitor therapeutic approaches are currently under investigation. For all pediatric lymphomas, the intensity of induction/consolidation therapy correlates with acute toxicities, but because of low cumulative doses of anthracyclines and alkylating agents, minimal or no long-term toxicity is expected. Challenges that remain include defining the value of prognostic factors, such as early response on positron emission tomography/computed tomography and minimal disseminated and residual disease, using new biologic technologies to improve risk stratification, and developing innovative therapies, both in the first-line setting and for relapse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • International Cooperation*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / therapy*
  • Medical Oncology / trends*
  • Pediatrics / trends*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome