Lymphoma - Hodgkin: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about Hodgkin lymphoma and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • Measuring treatment effectiveness. A focus of research for Hodgkin lymphoma is monitoring how well treatment is working. This knowledge can help inform decisions about whether treatment needs to be changed. Some new clinical trials are looking at changing chemotherapy depending on the results of a PET-CT (positron-emission tomography combined with computed tomography) scan early in the treatment period, usually after 2 cycles. This is called response-adapted treatment. The International Conference on Malignant Lymphomas recommends the use of response-adapted treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. The results of the PET-CT taken after 2 cycles of first-line treatment are used to generate a Deauville score, which indicates how well the treatment is working. The Deauville score is then used to plan how much and what kind of treatment is needed after the first treatment to give the best results and reduce potential side effects, including late effects. Additional methods for measuring whether treatment is working, such as specialized blood tests (sometimes called liquid biopsies), are being studied.

  • Reducing treatment intensity. Some types of earlier-stage Hodgkin lymphoma are so often cured that less intense treatment plans are being tested. These lower-intensity plans use chemotherapy alone or lower doses or smaller fields of radiation therapy or lower amounts of chemotherapy. The goal is to effectively treat the lymphoma and have fewer long-term side effects. Often, a PET-CT scan is given after a short course of chemotherapy to help guide these treatment reductions.

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

    Several new types of drugs that work differently from chemotherapy, called targeted therapy, are also being studied. Recent clinical trials have been studying the benefits and risks of adding brentuximab to the combination of therapies used for first-line treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma. Researchers are also examining the use of nivolumab and pembrolizumab (see “Immunotherapy” in Types of Treatment) in treating both newly diagnosed and recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma. Pembrolizumab plus GVD chemotherapy is being used in clinical trials to treat patients who have recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma and have already received brentuximab vedotin.

  • 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 doctors choose which medication to use to treat the lymphoma.

  • Transplantation approaches. Non-myeloablative or reduced-intensity bone marrow/stem cell transplantation and allogeneic transplantation are being tested for recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Palliative care/supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current Hodgkin lymphoma treatments to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

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:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that lymphoma and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.