Surgery for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Surgery is commonly used to diagnose childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The surgeon will remove a sample of the tumour or all or part of a lymph node so that it can be examined under a microscope (called a biopsy).

Surgery is rarely used to treat childhood NHL. It may be used to treat early stage Burkitt lymphoma that starts in the stomach or small intestine. The surgeon will remove the entire tumour or as much of the tumour as possible. Chemotherapy is then given after surgery.

Surgery may be done for other reasons. Your child may have surgery to place a central venous catheter. It may also be done to treat serious problems, such as a lymphoma that is blocking the intestine.

Side effects

Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for childhood NHL, but every child’s experience is different. Some children have many side effects. Other children have only a few side effects.

Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after surgery. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after surgery. Most side effects will go away on their own or can be treated, but some may last a long time or become permanent.

Side effects of surgery will depend mainly on the type and site of surgery and the child’s overall health. Side effects include pain, nausea, vomiting, infection and bleeding.

Tell your child’s healthcare team if your child has these side effects or others you think might be from surgery. The sooner they are aware of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help your child deal with them.

Questions to ask about surgery

Find out more about surgery and side effects of surgery. To make the decisions that are right for your child, ask the healthcare team questions about surgery.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Treating Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children. 2017.
  • Gross TG & Perkins SL . Malignant non-Hodgkin lymphomas in children. Pizzo, P. A. & Poplack, D. G. (Eds.). Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 23:pp. 663-682.
  • Johnston, JM. Pediatric non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and management. WebMD LLC;
  • Truong TH, Weitzman, S, Arceci RJ . Non-Hodgkin lymphoma of childhood. Wiernik PH, Goldman JM, Dutcher JP & Kyle RA (eds.). Neoplastic Diseases of the Blood. 5th ed. Springer; 2013: 48: pp. 1049-1072.
  • Woods D, McDonald, L . Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Baggott C, Fochtman D, Foley GV & Patterson Kelly, K (eds.). Nursing Care of Children and Adolescents with Cancer. 4rd ed. APHON; 2011: 29: pp. 1023-1037.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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