Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: New Treatments for Cancer of the Lymph Nodes

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CT Scan, Hodgkin's Lymphoma courtesy J Heuser and Wikimedia Commons

CT scan of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a 46-year-old man with LHS clear lymphoma. Image by J Heuser

Hodgkin’s Treatment May Cause Tumors

Standard Hodgkin’s treatment includes radiation therapy or chemotherapy such as the combination of drugs known as BEACOPP (Bleomycin, Etoposide, Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine, Procarbamide and Prednisone) which is 20% better at tumor control and 11% better for  overall survival than ABVD (Doxorubicin, Bleomycin, Vinblastine and Dacarbazine). BEACOPP is also far more effective for long-term survival, but according to Simon Crompton at Cancer World, studies have shown that the risk of developing neoplasms, or tumors, after treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 22% at 25 years of age; a far greater risk than experienced by the general population. So the search for alternatives to current chemotherapy and radiotherapy is ongoing.

A New Treatment Regimen for Hodgkin’s Disease

During the last three decades monoclonal antibodies have been developed for other cancers, and now there are several new drugs for Hodgkin’s lymphoma undergoing trials.

Professor Engert and other researchers are excited about a new targeted drug, brentuximab vedotin SGN-35, an antibody-drug conjugate shown to induce remission in 75% of patients with refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of the disease that is more severe, with 35% of patients achieving complete remission from the cancer. This particular treatment would avoid the dangers associated with radiotherapy and systemic treatments.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma involves long-term treatment over 20 to 30 years, and the incidences of long-term side effects are not yet known. The best judge of long-term treatments is time, so patients are still monitored long after receiving treatment.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a disease that more commonly affects young people, who then require constant monitoring over the long-term, but have excellent recovery prospects. The treatment of Hodgkin’s disease is not straightforward – standard treatments such as BEACOPP are too toxic for normal use, with side effects being a major concern, but there is no room for complacency as secondary cancers can occur within a year due to current treatment regimens. So science continues to pursue new treatments, and medical personnel work to find drugs that can improve long-term recovery rates – such as the targeted drugs sought by Professor Engert.

References

Crompton, S. Andreas Engert: Learning from Hodgkin’s. Cancer World. Accessed December 17, 2012.

National Institutes of Health. Hodgkin Disease. Medline Plus. Accessed December 17, 2012.

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