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Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare disease in which certain white blood cells (Langerhans cells) can damage organs. Every year, 10 to 15 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with LCH. Most children are under 10 years old. The disease is equally common in boys and girls.


LCH is formed from precursors of white blood cells. It is not clear what causes LCH and why. The LCH cells do not function properly and can damage organs. In some instances an abnormality is identified in the DNA of the LCH cells. This abnormality does not occur in healthy body cells (somatic cells). LCH is therefore not hereditary.


The most common symptoms are a lump and/or pain in the bone, skin abnormalities and fever. LCH often occurs in only one spot.

How is LCH diagnosed?

A piece of affected tissue or bone is removed under anesthesia and then examined under the microscope. Your child undergoes an ultrasound of the abdomen, X-rays of the bones and possibly an MRI scan. A blood sample is taken as well.


The intensity of the therapy depends on the extent of the disease. Treatment can range from a wait-and-see approach to mild or more intensive chemotherapy. Hopefully, drugs that target the LCH cells will be developed in the not too far future.

Chance of recovery

The chance of recovery for children with LCH is very good. Almost all children survive the disease. However, LCH can progress erratically and sometimes become chronic. In some children, the disease disappears spontaneously, without treatment.


Children and teenagers with LCH are treated in the hematology-oncology department.