Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body, and can kill cancer cells throughout the body.
The mainstream chemotherapy regimens is:
- ABVD - Adriamycin (Doxorubicin), Bleomycin, Vinblastine (Velban), Dacarbazine (DTIC)
Other regimens that have been or might be used are:
Chemotherapy is given in measured doses. Often a chemotherapy regimen will be given in cycles - treatments spaced over the period of days. For example, it is common to give ABVD in 4 week cycles. Two treatments, one every 2 weeks would be in one cycle. The number of cycles vary but for example 6 cycles would consist of 12 treatments spaced two weeks apart.
Chemotherapy is delivered many different ways depending on the drugs and treatment. Intravenous means delivered by inserting a needle in a vein, orally is by mouth, and via catheter or port is by a tube inserted into the chest via a surgical procedure. As always consult with your own doctors on the best treatment for you given your specific disease and its presentation.
Chemotherapy is tough on the body. There are a number of side effects which can include nausea (wanting to vomit or feeling queezy) and hair loss. Nausea is controllable with newer drugs such as Zofran and Kytril. Hair loss is another matter - many children come up with creative solutions including scarves, hats, and wigs. For kids who need hair pieces: the organization Locks of Love is the one to check out.
For Hodgkin's Disease that is resistant to chemotherapy, bone marrow or stem cell transplantation may be an option. More information is found on the Childhood Lymphoma Transplant Information Page.
Clinical trials are used to gauge therapy effectiveness and for those who wish to help researchers test new therapies. The US National Cancer Institute recommends all children be generally considered for clinical trials and be cared for by a multidisciplinary team of pediatric oncologists.
For specific types of treatment given a child's stage and other circumstances, please see the NCI data sheets listed under the Childhood Lymphoma Information Page.
Hodgkin's Disease, Peter M. Mauch (Editor), James O. Armitage (Editor), Volker Diehl (Editor), June 1999.
- Chapter 22: Principles of Chemotherapy in Hodgkin's Disease
- Chapter 30: Pediatric Hodgkin's Disease
Chemotherapy and You from NCI
Chemotherapy: How You Can Help from NCI
The Hodgkin (sic) Disease in Children: Chemotherapy - ACS
The Lymphoma Chemotherapy Drug Reference Page.
Information on ABVD and MOPP including side effects.
Paper: Cancer Pharmacology in Infants and Young Children, Children's Oncology Group (COG) National Cancer Institute, May 2003.
US Food & Drug Administration - Pediatric Drug Development.
Information on the Stanford Vprotocol.
Glen Martin's site has a good description of ABVD chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Disease.
Looking for books on chemo - see the book section...
See the new page The Facts About Intravenous Catheter Lines
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a newer treatment being tested with adults. Childhood use may either be in trials or not recommended. To find out more in general about this therapy see the Adult Lymphoma Monoclonal Antibody page
Side Effects and Coping
Information on Hair Loss & Head Coverings.
Coping with the Side Effects of Chemotherapy from Li Sparks .
Supportive Care Information from NCI.
Peripheral Neuropathy - tingling/numbness in the arms and feet.
Young People with Cancer - A Handbook for Parents from NCI.
Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Cell Information
Childhood Bone Marrow / Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant Information Page.
The Hodgkin's High-dose Chemotherapy and Transplant Information page is a great collaboration.
Blood Count Information
Blood Counts for Kids University of Iowa.
See the page on Clinical Trials
Books on Lymphoma Treatment including chemotherapy
For more information on Childhood Hodgkin's Disease, please see the following pages:
Childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Treatment
Childhood Lymphoma: Radiotherapy
Childhood Lymphoma: Resources
Childhood Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Page
Childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Diagnosis
Childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Introduction
Other pages you may want to visit:
Lymphoma Information Network
Adult Hodgkin's Lymphoma Resource Pages