A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has proven that not all Hodgkin lymphoma patients need the same aggressive treatment. Thanks to monitoring through PET-CT scans, researchers were able to provide different treatments for every patient.
Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a type of cancer that originates from a specific white blood cell called lymphocytes. It is characterized by the spread of disease from one lymph node to the other.
Hodgkin’s disease also develops systemic symptoms that include fever, night sweats, weight loss and other related symptoms related to the disease. The common treatment for the disease includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Treatment commonly depends on the age, sex and stage of the disease in the patient, yet survival rates are high. In the United States the five-year adult survival rate is 85% and for children and teenagers is 97%.
Despite the rates, there have been several cases of patients surviving even after 25 years and even 40 years after diagnosis. Nonetheless, treatments for the disease tend to leave secondary conditions that might develop in other complications for patients.
Less aggressive treatments
A recent study suggests that by using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT scans) physicians might have a better vision to determine correct treatment for their patients.
The research was inspired to reduce the long-term side effects that treatments like radiation and chemotherapy leave on patients even after their five-year survival rates. Researchers decided to monitor patients trough PET-CT scans to personalize treatments.
1,200 recently diagnosed advanced patients were administered the scans after receiving two cycles of the common chemotherapy that includes doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine (ABVD).
Those patients that showed clear scans continued with their regular chemotherapy treatment but eliminated bleomycin from their treatment. Patients that had a less clear scan and showed a more developed cancer continued chemotherapy with bleomycin.
Researchers assured bleomycin is a drug that has been given to cancer patients for over 30 years, but it has been proven to scare lungs and develop breathing complications for patients. So they decided to administer the drug for more advanced patients and eliminate the drug for improving patients.
The study also showed that the survival rates were the same for patients with clear PET-CT scans and for those with more troubled since. Which allows doctors to select stronger treatments for patients that need it, and spare healthier patients from breathing complications.
“The good news is that the majority of people diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured in this trial more than 95 percent of patients are alive after three years. But we worry about the long-term side effects from the treatments we use,” said lead author Peter Johnson who is a professor of medical oncology in England.
The research findings will orientate physicians to provide a more personalized treatment for their patients.
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine