Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis Treatment

  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis is a type of cancer that can damage tissue or cause lesions to form in one or more places in the body.
  • Family history of cancer or having a parent who was exposed to certain chemicals may increase the risk of LCH.
  • The signs and symptoms of LCH depend on where it is in the body.
    • Skin and nails
    • Mouth
    • Bone
    • Lymph nodes and thymus
    • Endocrine system
    • Eye
    • Central nervous system (CNS)
    • Liver and spleen
    • Lung
    • Bone marrow
  • Tests that examine the organs and body systems where LCH may occur are used to diagnose LCH.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis is a type of cancer that can damage tissue or cause lesions to form in one or more places in the body.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare cancer that begins in LCH cells. LCH cells are a type of dendritic cell which fights infection. Sometimes there are mutations (changes) in LCH cells as they form. These include mutations of the BRAFMAP2K1RAS and ARAF genes. These changes may make the LCH cells grow and multiply quickly. This causes LCH cells to build up in certain parts of the body, where they can damage tissue or form lesions.

Family history of cancer or having a parent who was exposed to certain chemicals may increase the risk of LCH.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk.

Risk factors for LCH include the following:

  • Having a parent who was exposed to certain chemicals.
  • Having a parent who was exposed to metal, granite, or wood dust in the workplace.
  • A family history of cancer, including LCH.
  • Having a personal history or family history of thyroid disease.
  • Having infections as a newborn.
  • Smoking, especially in young adults.
  • Being Hispanic.
  • Not being vaccinated as a child.

The signs and symptoms of LCH depend on where it is in the body.

Skin and nails

LCH in infants may affect the skin only. In some cases, skin-only LCH may get worse over weeks or months and become a form called high-risk multisystem LCH.

In infants, signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the skin may include:

Flaking of the scalp that may look like “cradle cap”.
Flaking in the creases of the body, such as the inner elbow or perineum.
Raised, brown or purple skin rash anywhere on the body

Mouth

Signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the mouth may include:

  • Swollen gums.
  • Sores on the roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks, or on the tongue or lips.
  • Teeth that become uneven or fall out.

Bone

Signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the bone may include:

  • Swelling or a lump over a bone, such as the skull, jawbone, ribs, pelvis, spine, thigh bone, upper arm bone, elbow, eye socket, or bones around the ear.
  • Pain where there is swelling or a lump over a bone.

Children with LCH lesions in bones around the ears or eyes have a high risk for diabetes insipidus and other central nervous system diseases.

Eye

  • Loss of balance, uncoordinated body movements, and trouble walking.
  • Trouble speaking.
  • Trouble seeing.
  • Headaches.
  • Changes in behavior or personality.
  • Memory problems.

Stages of LCH

  • There is no staging system for Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH).
  • Treatment of LCH is based on where LCH cells are found in the body and whether the LCH is low risk or high risk.
  • Recurrent LCH

Treatment Option Overview for LCH

  • There are different types of treatment for patients with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH).
  • Children with LCH should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating childhood cancer.
  • Nine types of standard treatment are used:
    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery
    • Radiation therapy
    • Photodynamic therapy
    • Immunotherapy
    • Targeted therapy
    • Other drug therapy
    • Stem cell transplant
    • Observation

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

  • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.