Hodgkin Disease

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Treating Hodgkin Disease TOPICS

How is Hodgkin disease treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.

The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.

Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

After Hodgkin disease is staged, the cancer care team will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment for Hodgkin disease is based largely on the stage of the disease. But other factors, including a person’s age and general health, and the type and location of the disease, may also affect treatment options.

For almost all patients with Hodgkin disease, cure is the main goal. But treatment can have side effects that often don’t show up for many years. Because of this, doctors try to choose a treatment plan with the lowest risk of potential side effects.

Several types of treatment can be used for Hodgkin disease:

The 2 main methods of treating Hodgkin disease are chemotherapy (the use of cancer-killing drugs) and radiation therapy (the use of high-energy rays or particles). Depending on the situation, one or both of these treatments might be used.

Monoclonal antibodies and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplants may be used for certain patients, especially if other treatments haven’t worked. Except for biopsy and staging, surgery is rarely used to treat Hodgkin disease.

Based on your treatment options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • A hematologist: a doctor who treats disorders of the blood, including lymphomas.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. In choosing a treatment plan, consider your health and the type and stage of the Hodgkin disease. Be sure that you understand all the risks and side effects of the various treatments before making a decision.

If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. Getting a second opinion can give you more information and help you feel confident about the treatment plan that you choose. Your doctor should be willing to help you find another cancer doctor who can give you a second opinion.

The next few sections describe the types of treatments used for Hodgkin disease. This is followed by a discussion of the typical treatment options based on the stage of the disease (and other prognostic factors when these are important). Finally, treatment of Hodgkin disease in special circumstances, such as in children or during pregnancy, is discussed.

Last Medical Review: 12/10/2012
Last Revised: 02/07/2014