Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Lymphoma - Hodgkin

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 5/2013
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ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

Doctors are working to learn more about Hodgkin lymphoma, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Measuring treatment effectiveness. A main focus of research for Hodgkin lymphoma is monitoring how well treatment is working to help make decisions about when to change treatment. Some new clinical trials are looking at changing chemotherapy depending on the results of a PET scan early in the treatment period.

New chemotherapy. New drugs, new combinations of chemotherapy, lower doses, and shorter schedules are being studied in clinical trials to reduce short-term side effects and long-term health risks to patients being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma. Other drugs are being tested for recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma and may be added to the current standard chemotherapy regimens used for progressive disease.

Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy (also called biologic therapy) is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Some treatments involve the use of antibodies that attach to proteins on the surface of cancer cells. Sometimes these antibodies have radioactive substances attached to them that will direct radiation therapy specifically to the lymphoma cells (called radioimmunotherapy), and other antibodies direct drugs to the cancer cells. Research on the recently approved drug brentuximab vedotin is ongoing to find out how to best use this drug.

Gene profiling. Some researchers are looking at the specific genes and proteins that are found in Hodgkin lymphoma. These genes and proteins provide more information about the behavior of Hodgkin lymphoma, which may help better target the lymphoma with chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Other treatments. Vaccine therapy is being studied to see if it helps the body’s immune system kill cancer cells. Stem cell transplantation is being studied in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens for new or recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma. Mini-allogeneic or allogeneic transplantation is being tested in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy for new or recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma. Several new types of drugs which work in a different way than chemotherapy, called targeted therapy, are also being studied. Many of these are given in tablet (pill) form.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current Hodgkin lymphoma treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding Hodgkin lymphoma, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

  • Visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net website to learn more about the historical pace of research for lymphoma. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website.

To continue reading this guide, choose “Next” (below, right) to see a section about coping with the side effects of the disease or its treatment. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

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