Lymphomas: Treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Clinical Nurse Specialist Amy Copeland sits with a patient before chemotherapy People with Hodgkin lymphoma receive care from a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists. Here, Clinical Nurse Specialist Amy Copeland sits with a patient before chemotherapy.

Today, most people with Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) can be cured. We’ll personalize a treatment plan for you that takes into account the type and stage of the disease and the size of the tumor or tumors.  

We may recommend chemotherapy alone or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, and we will adjust the number of chemotherapy doses or the amount of radiation you receive depending on your needs. Our goal is to maximize your chance for a cure and minimize your exposure to toxic medicines. 

Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy

For many years, radiation therapy was the only type of treatment that people with Hodgkin lymphoma could receive. But today, we can often use radiation in combination with chemotherapy, relying on smaller doses of each one to reduce short- and long-term side effects. 

With chemotherapy, drugs are taken through an IV (intravenously) or in pill form to kill rapidly dividing lymphoma cells throughout your body.

Our researchers are continually running clinical trials to improve treatment options for people with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Relapsed or Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma: Stem Cell Transplantation and Other Approaches

If you have Hodgkin lymphoma that doesn’t get better after the first treatment (called refractory) or has returned (relapsed), we can look to a variety of other approaches, including chemotherapy, radiation, the use of agents with antibodies linked to chemotherapy (drug immuno-conjugates), and other alternatives being tested through our clinical trials.  

We may also recommend combinations of these treatments, pairings such as high-dose chemotherapy plus a stem cell transplant, for example. Few centers in the world are as experienced in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation as we are.

Most people use their own stem cells — called an autologous transplant — although in some cases it’s better to use stem cells from a donor, called an allogeneic transplant. At MSK, we’ve found that nearly 70 percent of people with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma are disease-free five years after undergoing autologous transplant.  

Through our research and clinical trials, we’re continuously exploring new ways to make the transplant procedure more effective.