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Childhood Lymphoma- Long-Term Misery

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Childhood Lymphoma as well as other pediatric blood cancers, are curable. However, the cure comes at a price of a lifetime of long-term and late stage side effects.

I am a long-term survivor of a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. Though I was considered to be Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA- 34 at diagnosis), I underwent the standard-of -care therapy plan for my blood cancer.

I live with more than a dozen long-term and late stage side effects from the aggressive conventional therapies that I underwent from my diagnosis in 1994 to my end-stage diagnosis in 1997.

I have some insight into the long-term and late stage side effects experienced by childhood lymphoma survivors. In fact, the Medscape article linked and excerpted below is really talking about the damage done by aggressive radiation and chemotherapy.

Pediatric cancer patients are treated very aggressively in order to achieve such high cure rates. Let me explain.

It is well-established that chemotherapy and radiation cause:

  • Inflammation (read more 1) 
  • premature aging, senescence (read more 2) 
  • DNA damage, (

And it is the system-wide problems caused by DNA damage, senescence and inflammation, that are at the root of every long-term and late stage side effect described in the article linked and excerpted below.

In fact, one of the best kept secrets of conventional oncology is that while chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer, chemotherapy and radiation also promote the relapse of that cancer as well as the increased risk of treatment-related secondary cancers.. (read more 4,5)

Pediatric (childhood) and AYA cancer survivors are treated aggressively and live longer than adult cancer survivors. That may sound like an obvious statement but I thought I should point that out.

Conventional oncology has no real plan for managing long-term and late stage side effect no matter what your age.

The standard-of-care therapy plan for cancer survivors is simply to monitor them for long-term and late stage side effects.  Monitor your heart, for example, so that your G.P. can identify when you flip into atrial fibrillation or develop chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy. And then prescribe one or more heart meds such as metoprolol. Which brings more short, long-term and late stage side effects.

I know this because it happened to me.

If my son developed childhood lymphoma would I agree to aggressive standard-of-care chemotherapy and radiation? Difficult to say. But what I can say is that I would have my son undergo evidence-based but non-conventional therapies shown to prehabilitate and then undergo those therapies that I do in an effort to manage my own side effects.

For example, CoQ10 with cardiotoxic chemotherapy regimens has been shown to reduce or even eliminate the risk of chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy. 

Most every therapy that I have researched and adopted for my own survival are certainly evidence-based but are non-conventional therapies such as anti-inflammatory nutrition and supplementation, supplements shown to slow aging such as curcumin, resveratrol, and lifestyle therapies such as exercise shown to also reduce inflammation and slow aging. 

The term “non-conventional” means that the therapy will never be trialed and/or approved by the FDA. CoQ10 is not patentable.

Pediatric Cancer survivors are at risk for a host of health problems-

Are you a pediatric or AYA cancer survivor? Are you experiencing long-term or late stage side effects? Scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-021-00658-5
  2. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/158452
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672181/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31454672/
  5. https://unclineberger.org/news-archives/chemo-celluar-senescence/

Steep Price for Surviving Childhood Lymphoma: Epigenetic Aging

“Children with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured with intensive chemotherapy, radiation, and other modalities, but a large majority of patients who survive into adulthood may pay a steep price years later in terms of accelerated aging and neurocognitive impairment…

In addition, this accelerated epigenetic aging in HL survivors was accompanied by neurocognitive deficits, including declines in

  • visual-motor processing,
  • short-term memory,
  • verbal learning and recall, and
  • executive function.

“We found that biologic aging is associated with long-term neurocognitive impairment in Hodgkin lymphoma survivors,” Specifically, we see strong and consistent associations with memory impairment, which suggests that biologic aging is likely related to cognitive aging…”

It can have a significant long-term impact on a patient population “that we otherwise cure,” she commented, pointing to a study by investigators in Germany that showed high unemployment levels among adult survivors of childhood HL compared with the general population

Long-term Complications

Williams and colleagues had previously reported that compared with their healthy siblings, long-term survivors of HL­ had significantly higher risk of:

  • neurocognitive impairment,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • unemployment,
  • and impaired physical/mental quality of life…

The 215 trial participants who were survivors of pediatric HL came from the St Jude Lifetime Cohort. The mean patient age was 39, and the survivors were an average of 25 years out from their initial diagnosis.

As noted above, they found that HL survivors had a significantly higher epigenetic accelerated age compared with controls, equivalent to a mean difference of 7.7 years (P < .001).

More than 80% of the survivors had some degree of accelerated aging, compared with only 23% of controls.

HL survivors with higher degrees (second and third tertiles) of accelerated aging had significantly worse visual-motor processing speed compared with survivors in the first (lowest) tertile, with survivors in the second tertile performing on average 0.42 standard deviations (SD) worse (P = .005) and those in the third tertile performing 0.55 SD worse (P < .001).

In addition, relative to first tertile survivors, those in the second and third tertiles performed worse on short-term memory, with a decrease of -0.42 SD (P= .011) and 0.59 SD (P < .001), respectively…




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