Lymphoma of the head and neck in children can pose a significant diagnostic problem, especially when histologic analysis indicates non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the initial site of involvement is extranodal. This report describes 15 pediatric cases of lymphoma seen from 1981 to 1987 with an initial presentation in the head and neck. Cervical lymph nodes represented the initial site of involvement in 10 of the cases. The other five cases presented with disease in the tonsillar fossa; maxillary sinus and mandible; parotid; pharyngeal wall; trachea and thyroid gland; and ethmoid sinus, sphenoid sinus, and anterior fossa. The histologic type was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 12 cases and Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 3 cases. Our experience has shown that lymphoma of the head and neck in children presents a confusing clinical picture and was initially confused with inflammatory disease, polymorphic reticulosis, and other neoplasms such as rhabdomyosarcoma. In one patient, Epstein-Barr virus infection and an inherited immunodeficiency state probably played a role in the pathogenesis of the lymphoma.
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