Childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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Treatments for childhood Burkitt lymphoma

The following are treatment options for childhood Burkitt lymphoma. The healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your child’s needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatments are often based on the stage or risk group.

First-line therapy for childhood Burkitt lymphoma

First-line therapy is the first or most common treatment used. The following may be used as first-line therapy for childhood Burkitt lymphoma.


In general, a surgical or open biopsy is done by a surgeon to make the correct diagnosis. Rarely, if the lymphoma is only in one area of the body, such as the abdomen, surgery may be done to remove it before chemotherapy is given.


Chemotherapy is the main treatment for childhood Burkitt lymphoma. How long chemotherapy is given depends on the risk group and the treatment plan (called the protocol).

Chemotherapy drugs are given in different combinations based on different treatment plans. The most common chemotherapy drugs used in combinations for Burkitt lymphoma include:

  • cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Procytox)
  • vincristine (Oncovin)
  • prednisone
  • cytarabine (Cytosar, Ara-C)
  • etoposide (Vepesid, VP-16)
  • methotrexate
  • prednisolone
  • doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • hydrocortisone
  • dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexasone)
  • daunorubicin (Cerubidine, daunomycin)
  • L-asparaginase (Kidrolase)
  • mercaptopurine (Purinethol, 6-MP)
  • thioguanine (Lanvis, 6-TG)

Intrathecal chemotherapy is also given to prevent spread of NHL to the central nervous system (CNS) or to treat NHL that has spread to the CNS. This means that the drugs are given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the brain and spinal cord. Intrathecal chemotherapy can include 1 to 3 of the following drugs:

  • methotrexate
  • hydrocortisone
  • cytarabine

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy with rituximab may be used to treat children with newly diagnosed Burkitt lymphoma, in combination with chemotherapy, in a clinical trial setting.

Recurrent childhood Burkitt lymphoma

Treatments for recurrent, or relapsed, childhood Burkitt lymphoma may include more intense chemotherapy, with or without targeted therapy, or an allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplant.

Some chemotherapy combinations used for recurrent childhood Burkitt lymphoma include:

  • dexamethasone, etoposide, cisplatin (Platinol AQ), cytarabine and asparaginase
  • ifosfamide (Ifex), carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ), etoposide and rituximab (Rituxan)

Clinical trials

Many children with childhood Burkitt lymphoma will be treated in a clinical trial that is tailored to the risk group or stage of their disease. The clinical trial protocol, or plan, outlines the treatments used (such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy), as well as the drugs and dosages used. Find out more about clinical trials.


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