Treatment Options for Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

Information to help you take an active role in treatment decisions for classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

Chemotherapy drugs in an IV.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The most common type is classical Hodgkin lymphoma, and it accounts for roughly 9 in 10 cases. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options for cHL, and there have been numerous advances in treatment over the past decades.

Treatment options for cHL

The goal of treating cHL is to cure the condition when possible while minimizing the risk of long-term side effects. A treatment plan may include a combination of the following:

  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a type of systemic treatment that’s used to destroy and stop the growth of cancer cells. Oftentimes, people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma are given a combination of multiple chemotherapy drugs. These drugs are typically administered in cycles via an intravenous (IV) infusion. The exact drugs used, the dosages, and the duration of cycles will vary from person to person.
  • Radiotherapy. Also known as radiation therapy, this treatment uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy drugs help the body’s immune system recognize and target cancer cells. This treatment may be used when cHL recurs after initial treatment, or when cHL has progressed despite previous treatments.
  • Stem cell transplant. If the cancer recurs or doesn’t respond to initial treatment, a healthcare team may recommend a stem cell transplant (SCT). This is typically done in combination with high-dose chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is used to kill the cancer, after which healthy stem cells are reintroduced back into the body. Healthy stem cells may also come from a donor.
  • Consolidation therapy. The goal of this type of treatment is to kill any remaining cancer cells left in the body after initial treatment.
  • Clinical trials. If cHL does not respond to other treatment options, or if it recurs after treatment, a person may consider joining a clinical trial. Participating in a clinical trial may give a person access to a potential treatment that’s not yet available to the general public. A healthcare provider can help you decide if a clinical trial is a good option for you and help you find a clinical trial.

Making treatment decisions

Treatment plans for cHL are very individualized and take into consideration a number of factors, including:

  • The subtype of cHL
  • The stage of cHL
  • If and where the cancer has spread
  • Symptoms
  • Possible side effects from treatment
  • Results from blood tests, lab work, and scans
  • A person’s age, overall health, and preferences

It is important to take an active role when making treatment decisions. Educate yourself about your treatment options and potential side effects, and ask your healthcare provider any questions you have. You may also want to seek out a second opinion before committing to a treatment plan.

Article sources open article sources

American Cancer Society. "What Is Hodgkin Lymphoma?"
American Cancer Society. "Key Statistics for Hodgkin Lymphoma."
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. "Hodgkin Lymphoma."
Cancer.Net. "Lymphoma - Hodgkin: Types of Treatment."
UpToDate. "Patient education: Hodgkin lymphoma in adults (Beyond the Basics)."
American Cancer Society. "Treating Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma, by Stage."
American Cancer Society. "High-dose Chemotherapy and Stem Cell Transplant for Hodgkin Lymphoma."
NCI Dictionary. "Consolidation therapy."
American Cancer Society. "Deciding Whether to Be Part of a Clinical Trial."
Cancer.Net. "Making Decisions About Cancer Treatment."

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