Limited-stage Hodgkin lymphoma: optimal chemotherapy and the role of radiotherapy

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Approximately 90% of patients with early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) will be cured with first-line therapy. Chemotherapy alone or combined-modality therapy are both acceptable standard treatment options for nonbulky early-stage HL. Combined-modality therapy is associated with more serious late effects and, in at least one study, showed inferior survival rates compared with chemotherapy alone. Modern radiotherapy fields and doses are likely to result in fewer complications, but given the common involvement of the mediastinum in HL, complete avoidance of the heart, lungs, and breasts in the radiotherapy field is unlikely. In patients receiving chemotherapy alone, four to six cycles of doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine (ABVD), with fewer cycles being given to those with an early complete remission, is recommended. Three cycles of ABVD may be adequate in those with an early negative PET, but these results have been published only in abstract form. Current standards for combined-modality therapy include two cycles of ABVD and 20 Gy of involved field radiotherapy in those with a favorable risk profile and four cycles of ABVD plus 30 Gy for unfavorable HL in early-stage patients. Standard of care for bulky early-stage HL remains combined-modality therapy. Whether an interim PET will allow selection of patients with nonbulky HL who will benefit most from consolidative radiotherapy is still under investigation.


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