What are the treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma?
Treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually with medicines that destroy the cancer cells (chemotherapy), with or without radiotherapy.
Chemotherapy is a treatment which uses anti-cancer medicines to kill cancer (lymphoma) cells, or to stop them from multiplying. Hodgkin's lymphomas are usually treated with chemotherapy medicines given straight into the vein (intravenous chemotherapy). The course of chemotherapy typically lasts several months. A combination of medicines is usually used. The exact combination of medicines used and the length of the course of chemotherapy depend on factors such as the stage and exact type of the disease.
Radiotherapy is a treatment which uses high-energy beams of radiation which are focused on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. Radiotherapy alone may be used for early-stage disease. It may also be used in combination with chemotherapy.
What about a stem cell transplant?
A stem cell transplant (sometimes called a bone marrow transplant) is not a usual treatment, as chemotherapy and radiotherapy usually cure the disease. It tends to be used if the disease returns (relapses) after the usual treatment. Stem cells are the immature cells that develop into mature blood cells in the bone marrow. Lymphocytes are derived from blood stem cells.
Briefly, a stem cell transplant involves high-dose chemotherapy (and sometimes radiotherapy) to kill all the abnormal lymphocytes. However, this also kills the stem cells that make normal blood cells. So, after the chemotherapy you are given a transplant of stem cells which then make normal blood cells.
You should have a full discussion with a specialist who knows your case. They will be able to give you information on:
- The pros and cons.
- The likely success rate.
- Possible side-effects.
- Other details about the treatment options for your type and stage of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Did you find this information useful?
- Hodgkin's lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis treatment and follow-up; European Society for Medical Oncology (2014)
- Guideline on the Management of Primary Resistant and Relapsed Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma; British Committee for Standards in Haematology and the British Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (2013)
- Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma - First Line Management; British Committee for Standards in Haematology (2014)
- Ansell SM; Hodgkin lymphoma: 2016 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management. Am J Hematol. 2016 Jun 91(4):434-42. doi: 10.1002/ajh.24272.
- Gobbi PG, Ferreri AJ, Ponzoni M, et al; Hodgkin lymphoma. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2013 Feb 85(2):216-37. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Aug 4.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.