If your child’s lymphoma comes back after the first treatment, your doctor may suggest high doses of chemotherapy followed by a transplant of their own blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cells.
Doctors recommend a stem cell transplant if there are high-risk features when Hodgkin lymphoma comes back. These include:
- Cancer returns to a location that has been treated with radiation
- B symptoms
- Cancer outside of lymph nodes
- A short time between the last treatment and the return of lymphoma
Before high-dose chemotherapy, doctors will remove stem cells from your child. The cells are frozen and stored. After chemotherapy is finished, doctors return the stem cells to your child’s body through a vein.
High-dose chemotherapy treats tumors more effectively than lower-dose chemo. But the drugs damage the bone marrow’s ability to make new blood cells. That’s why your child needs a transplant of their stored healthy stem cells. A stem cell transplant using a child’s own cells is called autologous (aw-TAH-luh-gus).
In rare cases, or if the Hodgkin lymphoma comes back after the transplant, doctors may transplant stem cells from a donor whose cells closely match your child’s. This type of stem cell transplant is called allogeneic (A-loh-jeh-NAY-ik).
For either type of transplant, children may get radiation before the transplant or after they recover from the transplant.
We do the transplants at Seattle Children’s, working closely with our partner, Fred Hutch.
Learn more about the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.