Hodgkin Lymphoma: Treatment Choices
There are several treatment choices for Hodgkin lymphoma, also called Hodgkin disease. Which may work best for you? It depends on a number of factors, such as:
The type of Hodgkin lymphoma
The stage of the lymphoma
Whether you have any B symptoms: weight loss, unexplained fever, or night sweats
The results of certain blood or urine tests
Your age and overall health
Your personal concerns and preferences
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities.
Your doctor is the best person to answer your questions. He or she can tell you what your treatment choices are and how successful they’re expected to be. Your doctor can also tell you what the risks and side effects are. Your doctor may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may suggest more than one, and ask you to decide which you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It is important to take the time you need to make the best decision.
Types of treatment
Hodgkin lymphoma treatments may be local, which means they focus on 1 area. Or they may be systemic and reach cancer cells all over your body. You may have only one treatment or a combination of treatments.
Local treatment removes, destroys, or controls cancer cells in 1 area. This is done with:
Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells using X-rays or other particles. In the past, this treatment was used alone in early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma, when the disease had not spread far from the original tumor. Now, it is most often used along with chemotherapy.
Systemic treatment destroys or control cancer cells throughout the whole body. The types of systemic treatment include:
Chemotherapy. This treatment uses medicines to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. It may be used alone or with radiation. Most people have several medicines through IV and pills.
Stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant can be used after treatment with very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation. High doses of these kill the stem cells in the bone marrow that help make new blood cells. With a stem cell transplant, healthy stem cells are put back in your body after treatment. The cells may come from a donor. This is called an allogeneic transplant. Or you can have stem cells in your own blood collected before the high-dose treatment. You get the stem cells back in a process like a blood transfusion a few days after the chemotherapy. This is called an autologous transplant.
Monoclonal antibodies. These medicines are manmade, or synthetic, forms of immune system proteins. They target a specific part of a cancer cell. They may be used alone or along with chemotherapy to treat certain types of Hodgkin lymphoma.
Clinical trials for new treatments
Experts are also finding new ways to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before starting treatment, ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should consider.
Working with your doctor to choose a treatment plan
Your oncologist will help you make a treatment plan. Talking about your treatment choices will be one of the most important meetings you'll have with your doctor.
It may take time to choose the best plan. Ask your doctor how much time you can take to explore your options. You may want to get an opinion from another doctor before deciding on treatment. You may also want to talk with your family and friends.