Childhood Hodgkin's: To Radiate or Not?

Radiation has been used to battle lymphoma, especially Hodgkin's, for decades. The risks are now well documented. In kids, it can prevent growth, affect the heart, and increase the risk for secondary cancers. But thinking in the medical community was the risk is worth it if it caused the cancer to go into remission.

Dr. Ursula Ruhl, at Moabit Hospital Berlin, has led a seven-nation study in which 1018 children with Hodgkin's were treated with two to six cycles of combination chemotherapy. The 211 children who achieved a complete remission after chemotherapy alone were not given "consolidating" radiation therapy. Depending on the amount of residual tumor, the other patients were given various doses of radiation. The overall survival of the children without radiation was 96% compared to 92% of children given consolodation radiation. Further research is focusing on reducing radiation doses on those who do not achieve remission with chemo alone.

I am hopeful this research will lead to a change in treatment strategies. This could lessen the number of Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's childhood survivors with "late effects" and secondary cancers. Press Release

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