Taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice for some Hodgkin lymphoma patients. Clinical trials are under way to develop treatments for patients who are newly diagnosed, are in remission and have refractory and relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma. Today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continues to invest funds in Hodgkin lymphoma research.
Clinical trials can involve new drugs, new combinations of drugs or approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new ways such as new drug doses or new schedules to administer the drugs. Clinical trials are conducted worldwide under rigorous guidelines to help doctors find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment. Advances in the treatment of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, which has improved cure rate and the quality of life for survivors, are in large part a result of the research of pediatric cooperative groups.
Patients in clinical trials usually receive either the study treatment or the best standard treatment. Clinical trials are conducted worldwide under rigorous guidelines to help doctors find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.
Current Hodgkin Lymphoma Research and Clinical Trials
Below are some of the types of Hodgkin lymphoma research and trials under way:
Long-term and late effects of treatment. Scientists want to learn whether treating early-stage patients with chemotherapy alone is an effective approach, which could possibly reduce potential long-term and late effects of the current standard treatment of combining chemotherapy with involved field radiation therapy.
PET/CT as a chemotherapy monitoring tool. Experts are studying ways to determine which patients would benefit most from more intensive treatment. Using a positron emission topography and computed tomography (PET/CT) scan may be one way to monitor patients' chemotherapy response, allowing doctors to adjust ongoing treatment.
Biomarkers and genetic causes. Scientists are working to identify biomarkers, high levels of substances released by cancer cells. By pinpointing biomarkers, doctors will be better able to get more details about the Hodgkin cells found. Experts are also trying to better understand Hodgkin lymphoma's genetic causes.
Quality-of-life studies. More than 140,000 survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma are living in the United States. Researchers are studying the long-term and late effects of survivors and applying what they find to create less toxic treatment while maintaining or improving the cure rates of standard therapy. The information will also be used to propose guidelines for long-term follow-up care for survivors.
Advanced, relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. Researchers are studying several chemotherapy regimens, with and without targeted therapies, for their effectiveness and safety in advanced, relapsed or refractory disease. They hope to find better drugs or drug combinations that will reduce side effects.
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Several drugs and drug combinations are being studied in combination with allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplantations, such as:
- gemcitabine and vinorelbine followed by a combination of carmustine, etoposide and cyclophosphamide to treat recurrent or refractory disease
- bortezomib for high-risk patients
- immunosuppressive drugs called signal transduction inhibitors (such as temsirolimus, tacrolimus and sirolimus) to help prevent graft vs. host disease
Reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Doctors are studying a reduced-intensity stem cell transplantation, also called a nonmyeloablative transplantation, that may help some patients such as those who are older and those who have poor overall health better tolerate stem cell transplantation.