Childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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Treatments for childhood diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

The following are treatment options for childhood diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your child’s health and specific information about the lymphoma. Treatments are often based on the stage or risk group.

Treatments for newly diagnosed childhood diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for newly diagnosed DLBCL. Surgery to remove the tumour may be done before chemotherapy if the tumour is only in one area of the body, such as the abdomen.


Chemotherapy is the main treatment for childhood DLBCL. How long chemotherapy is given depends on the stage, risk group and treatment plan (protocol). It may be given for 9 weeks to 6 months for stage 1 or 2 DLBCL and for 6 to 8 months for stage 3 or 4 DLBCL.

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

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

Intrathecal chemotherapy may be given to prevent the spread of DLBCL to the brain and spinal cord (called the central nervous system, or CNS) or to treat DLBCL 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
  • cytarabine
  • hydrocortisone

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy with rituximab (Rituxan) may be used in combination with chemotherapy to treat children with DLBCL.

Treatments for recurrent childhood diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Treatments for recurrent (relapsed) childhood DLBCL may include more intense chemotherapy, with or without targeted therapy (such as rituximab), and an allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplant. Immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors or CAR T-cell therapy may be used in a clinical trial to treat recurrent childhood DLBCL.

Chemotherapy combinations used for recurrent childhood DLBCL may include:

  • ifosfamide (Ifex), carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ), etoposide and rituximab

Clinical trials

Children with cancer may be treated in a clinical trial. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.


Referring to DNA, cells, tissues or organs taken (harvested) from a donor to be given to a recipient who is a close, but not identical, genetic match.

For example, an allogeneic stem cell transplant takes blood or bone marrow from a donor (usually a first-degree relative) and gives it to a recipient.


Referring to DNA, cells, tissues or organs taken (harvested) from a person’s own body to be stored and given back to the same person.

For example, in an autologous stem cell transplant, blood or bone marrow is taken from a person, stored and later given back to the same person.

Autologous transplant is also called autotransplant or autograft.


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