Children with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and their parents may have questions about prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a child’s health history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a child and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the child that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic factors for childhood HL.
The earlier the stage, the more favourable the prognosis. Children with an advanced stage of disease (stage III or IV) have a poorer prognosis.
Tumour bulk refers to the size of the cancer. A bulky tumour is a large tumour in a lymph node, group of lymph nodes or organ. Tumour bulk is considered a negative prognostic factor. This means that the larger the tumour, the less favourable the prognosis.
Children who have B symptoms at the time of diagnosis generally have a poorer prognosis. B symptoms are a fever over 38°C, drenching night sweats and unexplained weight loss.
Children who respond quickly to the first chemotherapy treatments tend to have a better prognosis.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.