Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is changing due to new drugs and research findings from clinical trials. Therefore, before treatment begins, it is important to consider getting a second opinion at a center with a Hodgkin lymphoma expert.
It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with Hodgkin lymphoma or works in consultation with a Hodgkin lymphoma specialist. This type of specialist is called a hematologist-oncologist.
For many people with Hodgkin lymphoma, starting treatment helps them focus on moving ahead and looking forward to recovery. Hodgkin lymphoma is considered one of the most curable forms of cancer.
Types of Treatment
Doctors use several types of approaches and treatment combinations for adults and children with Hodgkin lymphoma, some at different stages:
- Radiotherapy also known as "radiation therapy"
- Stem cell transplantation
- Clinical trial. Clinical trials can involve therapy with new drugs and new drug combinations or new approaches to stem cell transplantation. There are trials for patients at every stage of treatment.
Fertility Concerns. While many treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma have no or little adverse effects on future fertility, some cancer treatments can limit a person's ability to conceive or have a baby. Adults of childbearing age and parents of children diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma should ask their doctors for information that may lessen the risk of infertility. See the free LLS publication Fertility Facts for more details.
The goal of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment is to cure the disease. More than 80 percent of all patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured by current treatment approaches. The cure rate is higher, approaching 90 percent, in younger patients and those with early-stage favorable disease. Even if disease recurs, many patients can be cured with further treatment.
Most patients become long-term survivors of the disease. Treatment goals are to
- Maximize cure for all stages
- Minimize both short-term and long-term side effects and complicaitons
- Weigh the risks of toxicity against treatment benefits.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- Your disease subtype
- Your disease stage and category
- Whether your disease is either refractory (the disease does not respond to treatment) or relapsed (the disease has recurred after treatment)
- Your age
- Whether you have coexisting diseases or conditions (for example, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes)
If your child is being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma, therapy may differ slightly from that of the average adult. See Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma.
As you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to discuss:
- The results you can expect from treatment
- The potential side effects, including long-term effects and late-term effects
- The possibility of participating in a clinical trial, where you may have access to advanced medical treatment that may be more beneficial to you than standard treatment
You may find it helpful to bring a loved one with you to your doctor's visits for support, to take notes and to ask follow-up questions. It's a good idea to prepare questions in advance that you would like to ask when you visit your doctor. You can also record your conversations with your doctor and listen more closely when you get home.
To download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers, click here.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklet, Hodgkin Lymphoma