Lymphoma refers to a group of white blood cell cancers in the lymphatic system — the part of the immune system that includes the lymph vessels, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and tonsils. The diseases can form tumors and are found in children, teens and adults, though some types are more common at certain ages. We create individualized treatment plans, with our specialists working with patients and their families to come up with the best and most comprehensive plans. At times, that could mean watchful waiting — careful monitoring until symptoms worsen — such as when someone has slow-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma or is pregnant and wants to deliver before lymphoma treatment.

Treatment Considerations

Lymphoma treatments for adults may vary from those for children and teens. Our recommendations for the best treatment approach typically depend on:

  • Patient’s age, gender and overall health
  • The cancer’s type, subtype and stage
  • Blood test results
  • Patient’s symptoms
  • Whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or has returned (recurred).
  • Size of the tumor, if any
  • Whether the cancer has spread, and to where
  • How well the cancer responds to initial lymphoma treatments, and to what type
  • Genetic changes in the cancer and other features

Pregnancy and Lymphoma Treatments

If you are pregnant, we take additional precautions to protect the health of both you and your fetus. We account for the age of the fetus and your wishes, with our recommendations adjusting for any changes with the cancer or the pregnancy. Options may include:

  • Watchful Waiting: We closely monitor your condition, with the goal of postponing treatment until the fetus is at least 32 weeks old and we can induce labor. Steroids may help the fetus’ lungs develop faster than normal.
  • Careful Treatment: Unfortunately, some types of lymphoma are aggressive and require prompt treatment. If that’s the case, we choose the type of chemotherapy drug and the schedule that is least likely to harm the fetus. For radiation, we shield the fetus as much as possible.

Children, Teens and Lymphoma Treatments

While we always tailor lymphoma treatments to minimize side effects from chemotherapy and radiation, we take special precautions for our youngest patients. Unfortunately, some effects might not show up for months or years later, including problems with:

  • Development of sex and reproductive organs
  • Fertility
  • Bone and muscle growth and development
  • Thyroid, heart, or lungs
  • Teeth, gums, and salivary gland
  • Other cancers, including breast
  • Mood, feelings, thinking, learning or memory

A number of these effects are treatable — or minimized with proper planning. Learn more about our pediatric cancer care and our Late Effects Program.

Learn more about our blood cancer treatments:

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Related Resources

Learn more about hematological disorders and blood cancer care at MedStar Georgetown: