Chemo Gets the Job Done Alone

Radiation therapy contraindicated in Hodgkin lymphoma

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A long-term risk analysis of Hodgkin lymphoma patients shows that the traditional practice of using radiation together with chemotherapy may be too much, causing more problems without extending life expectancy.

The 12-year study of 405 patients showed that ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) chemotherapy alone achieved improved overall survival compared with radiation alone or radiation combined with ABVD.

"Ask your oncologist about using chemotherapy without radiation for Hogkin lymphoma."

Radiation therapy was associated with higher rates of secondary cancers, increased number of cardiac events, lower rate of overall survival and deaths from other causes than cancer.

An important footnote to the research is that radiation dosages used early on in the study in 1994 were far higher than is currently used today, and the debate over whether to use radiation or not is far from over.

“The strategy of treating limited-stage Hodgkin lymphoma with chemotherapy alone is controversial. Our results alter this debate. The 12-year rates of 87% for freedom from disease progression and 94% for overall survival in the ABVD arm suggest that chemotherapy alone can now more confidently be a therapeutic option for this population,” stated lead author Ralph M. Meyer, M.D.

Results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Meyer has formal business relationships with a number of pharmaceutical companies. 


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Review Date: 
March 12, 2012
Last Updated:
December 5, 2012