Leukemia and lymphoma make up more than a third of all pediatric cancers. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells and bone marrow, while lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes. Most often, these cancers affect the body’s white blood cells, but they can also interfere with the body’s production of red blood cells and platelets. When a child has leukemia or lymphoma, the bone marrow or lymph nodes produce a large number of abnormal white blood cells, crowding out the healthy cells that protect against disease and boost immunity.
Tremendous improvements have been made in the treatment of pediatric leukemia and lymphoma; however, some children do not respond to treatment as well as others. These patients are considered to have high-risk leukemia or lymphoma. A child may be considered to have high-risk leukemia or lymphoma due to markers present in or on the leukemia or lymphoma cells at diagnosis, the leukemia or lymphoma not going away quickly with chemotherapy (refractory), or the leukemia or lymphoma coming back after initially going away (relapse).
The treatment for high-risk leukemia and lymphoma is not one-size-fits-all and often requires treatment that is specific to each individual patient. Treatment may include blood and marrow transplant (BMT), chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T), drugs targeting specific genes or proteins of the cancer, or clinical trials. Navigating this can be challenging and confusing to both families and physicians.
Leading the nation in pediatric high-risk leukemia and lymphoma treatment and care
The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center developed the High-Risk Leukemia and Lymphoma Program to streamline and coordinate treatment and care for pediatric patients with high-risk leukemia and lymphoma. Our program is one of only a few similar collaborative programs in the nation and brings together our own subject matter experts in the fields of leukemia, lymphoma, BMT, CAR-T, developmental therapeutics and precision medicine to design individualized treatment plans for some of the most complex pediatric leukemia and lymphoma cases. This advisory team of Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center physicians educates patients and their families about their treatment options and empowers them to make informed decisions.
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