Soil microorganisms ferment
to make adriamycin.
photo by Linda Bartlett for NCI

ABVD is a combination chemotherapy regimen that was developed in the early 1970's as an alternative to MOPP. ABVD is now one of the most common regimens for treating Hodgkin's Disease.

Drug Names

  • Adriamycin (generic name: Doxorubicin; brand names: Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF, Rubex)
  • Bleomycin (brand name: Bienoxane
  • Viznblastine (brand names: Velban, Velsar, and Velbe)
  • Dacarbazine (brand names: DTIC, DTIC-Dome)

Drug Administration

The ABVD chemotherapy regimen is usually administered in four-week cycles. The four drugs are administered intravenously on days 1 and 15 of each cycle, with the remaining days left for patient recovery. Dosing differs based on a person’s body mass.

Adriamycin side effects

Adriamycin can cause many side effects, including nausea, alopecia (hair loss), and neutropenia (depletion of white blood cells). It can also cause heart problems, such as arrhythmias, in some patients.

Bleomycin side effects

Bleomycin can cause a fever, rash, alopecia, and Raynaud’s phenomenon (a discoloration of the fingers and/or toes). However, the most serious side effect is the occurrence of pulmonary fibrosis, which impairs the lungs.

Vinblastine side effects

Vinblastine can cause neutropenia, ulcers, blisters, and nausea.

Dacarbazine side effects

Dacarbazine causes severe nausea in some patients, as well as neutropenia, headaches, fatigue, and diarrhea.

Other Side Effects and Common Medications

Chemotherapy can cause frequent urination because of the high amount of fluid entering the body intravenously during treatment. Catheters might be used to allow for stronger doses in some patients. Extra fluids should be consumed during treatment to help prevent kidney damage.

Treatment can also cause constipation; if this occurs, your doctor should prescribe a laxative.

Anti-nausea medicines, such as Zofran or Kytril are usually given during chemotherapy treatments to help with side effects. Pain relievers may also be prescribed.

All chemotherapy agents can cause birth defects in babies conceived or carried during ABVD chemotherapy treatment. There is also a risk of infertility. You may want to discuss your options, such as sperm banking or egg harvesting, with your medical team prior to starting treatment.

Lymphoma Treatment Resources

  • The Zevalin radioimmunotherapy regimen is now approved for certain types of NHL.
  • Follow this link to identify a conveniently located cancer treatment center and begin the process of enrollment.

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