Treating Hodgkin Disease
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, might 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 possible side effects.
Several types of treatment can be used for Hodgkin disease:
The 2 main ways of treating Hodgkin disease are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Depending on the situation, one or both of these treatments might be used.
Immunotherapy 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. See Treating Classic Hodgkin Disease by Stage or Treating Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin Disease for details on common treatment plans. See also Treating Hodgkin Disease in Children or Hodgkin Disease During Pregnancy for information about treatment in special circumstances.
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 might be part of your treatment team as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and other health professionals. See Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care for more on this.
It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and 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. It’s also very important to ask questions if you’re not sure about something. You can find some good questions to ask in What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Hodgkin Disease?
If time allows, 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.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see the Clinical Trials section to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.