Induction Therapy


Induction therapy is a term used to describe the first major treatment or therapy administered to a cancer patient. It does not by definition refer to any specific type of therapy in and of itself; rather, it merely refers to the initial therapeutic effort. Sometimes induction therapy goes by other names, such as 'primary therapy' or more commonly, 'first-line therapy' or 'first-line treatment.'

First-line Induction Therapy

Naturally, the hope for all patients and their doctors is that induction therapy succeed, and perhaps cure the patient of his or her cancer (this result is more common in early stage cancers, and more common in lymphoid cancers such as lymphomas and leukemias). In medicine, induction therapies amount to the best-known treatment option for each type of cancer, and typically they will be listed among standard treatment guidelines as first-line treatment options. Such standard guidelines are often not in place for very rare cancers because research has not established which treatment is the best. This does not mean then that rare cancers do not have induction therapies—every case of cancer has an induction therapy if a patient chooses to undergo therapy; the exception is only if they choose to do nothing at all about their cancer.

Induction Therapy in Lymphomas

Induction therapy for some of the more common subtypes of lymphoma are as follows:

-- Hodgkin's lymphoma: ABVD combination chemotherapy
-- Diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: R-CHOP combination chemotherapy
-- Anaplastic large cell lymphoma: CHOP combination chemotherapy
-- Follicular lymphoma: Radiation, or single-agent Rituxan, or R-CHOP combination chemotherapy, or even the watch-and-wait approach.

Again, it doesn't matter what the choice of therapeutic intervention is, the first line of therapy is known as induction therapy. It is sometimes followed by adjuvant therapy. If induction therapy should fail, the patient would then undergo second-line therapy, which is sometimes referred to as salvage therapy.


National Cancer Institute, induction therapy

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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