People with lymphoma generally tolerate treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy relatively well but new drugs with fewer side effects may be available soon.
Most people with Hodgkin lymphomas (Hodgkin’s disease) who are treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering today are cured using a personalized treatment plan that takes into account such factors as the type of disease involved, its stage, and the size of the tumor or tumors.
At MSK, we may recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy or chemotherapy alone. We tailor the number of chemotherapy doses and the dose of radiation to individual cases to maximize the chance for a cure and minimize exposure to toxic medicines.
Radiation Therapy & Chemotherapy
For many years, radiation therapy was the only type of treatment available for people with Hodgkin lymphoma. Today, doctors often use radiation in combination with chemotherapy, relying on smaller doses of each one to reduce short- and long-term side effects.
For chemotherapy, drugs are given intravenously or by mouth to kill rapidly dividing cells throughout the body. Common first-line treatments include combinations of such medicines as ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) and BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone, and procarbazine).
At MSK, numerous clinical trials are under way to improve chances for a cure for people at various stages of Hodgkin lymphoma.
Relapsed or Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma: Stem Cell Transplantation and Other Approaches
If your Hodgkin lymphoma recurs or does not get better after the first treatment, we can draw from 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.
If your disease recurs, we may recommend high-dose chemotherapy plus stem cell transplantation through our world-class blood and marrow stem cell transplantation program for lymphomas and other cancers.
Most patients 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 experience a five-year cure from the disease after undergoing autologous transplant(1).
Through our research and clinical trials, we’re continuously exploring new ways to make the transplant procedure more effective.