Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is responsible for warding off diseases in the body. Hodgkin lymphoma treatment depends on how far along the cancer is when it is diagnosed. Standard treatment typically includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Other treatment options include clinical trials, which aim to improve standard treatment or establish new methods. The good news is that patients who undergo Hodgkin lymphoma treatment are able to have a complete remission in almost 90 percent of the cases.
One type of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment includes chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves using drugs to prevent cancer cells from growing. The way chemotherapy is applied varies, depending on how evolved the cancer is. Typically given in waves, chemotherapy can last for several days. After drugs are given, the patient is given a few weeks to rest and recover from any side effects, which generally includes a depletion of white blood cells. The process is then repeated until the disease is in remission.
Chemotherapy is typically systemic or regional. Systemic chemotherapy involves treating the cancer with drugs that are taken orally. The drugs then travel through the bloodstream to fight the cancer. With regional chemotherapy, the drugs are intravenously placed straight into the affected area of the body.
Another Hodgkin lymphoma treatment is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy involves using powerful X-rays or other forms of radiation to eliminate cancer cells. External radiation is the most common form of radiation therapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. With external radiation, a device called a linear accelerator emits strong energy waves into the body.
Radiation therapy is often used in combination with chemotherapy. If a person relapses after undergoing radiation therapy, it is necessary to then revert back to chemotherapy. While radiation therapy may be successful in certain cases, it comes with risks such as coronary disease or stroke. Radiation therapy also can harm adjacent healthy tissue.
In some cases, stem cell transplants are used in Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. The transplant of a person's own immature blood cells is often done in combination with heavy-doses of chemotherapy. A patient typically donates his own stem cells because the chemotherapy negatively impacts his bone marrow and receiving blood stem cells helps to replenish blood marrow.
Other types of lymphoma treatment involve clinical trials. Patients must give their consent to be part of a clinical trial, which is often experimental in nature. Clinical trials often are a way to research new drugs and procedures.