Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Background: The diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma, one of the commonest cancers seen in childhood and adolescence, is challenging. There is a crucial need to identify and delineate the prevalence of associated symptoms in order to improve early diagnosis. Aims: To identify clinical presentations associated with childhood and adolescent B-cell lymphomas and estimate symptom prevalence. Methods: A systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis of proportions was carried out. Medline and EMBASE were systematically searched, with no language restrictions, from inception to 1st August 2022. Observational studies with at least 10 participants, exploring clinical presentations of any childhood and adolescent lymphoma, were selected. Proportions from each study were inputted to determine the weighted average (pooled) proportion, through random-effects meta-analysis. Results: Studies reported on symptoms, signs and presentation sites at diagnosis of 12,207 children and adolescents up to the age of 20. Hodgkin’s lymphoma most frequently presented with adenopathy in the head-and-neck region (79% [95% CI 58%-91%]), whilst non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma presented abdominally (55% [95% CI 43%-68%]). Symptoms associated with lymphoma included cervical lymphadenopathy (48% [95% CI 20%-77%]), peripheral lymphadenopathy (51% [95% CI 37%-66%]), B-symptoms (40% [95% CI 34%-44%]), fever (43% [95% CI 34%-54%]), abdominal mass (46% [95% CI 29%-64%]), weight loss (53% [95% CI 39%-66%]), head-and-neck mass (21% [95% CI 6%-47%]), organomegaly (29% [95% CI 23%-37%]), night sweats (19% [95% CI 10%-32%]), abdominal pain (28% [95% CI 15%-47%]), bone pain (17% [95% CI 10%-28%]) and abnormal neurology (11% [95% CI 3%-28%]). Conclusion: This systematic review and meta-analysis of proportions provides insight into the heterogeneous clinical presentations of B-cell lymphoma in childhood and adolescence and provides estimates of symptom prevalence. This information is likely to increase public and clinical awareness of lymphoma presentations and aid earlier diagnosis. This review further highlights the lack of studies exploring childhood and adolescent lymphoma presentations in primary care, where patients are likely to present at the earliest stages of their disease.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Cancer

Publication Date