Major Improvements in Treating Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin’s disease) is one of the most common cancers to affect young adults under 40. Just thirty years ago, the survival rate was less than one third.

Now, Hodgkin lymphoma is considered one of the most curable cancers due to rapid and successful advancements in treatments and diagnosis.

Technical advancements are partly responsible for the improvements in the methods for diagnosing Hodgkin lymphoma. In the past, the protocol for diagnosing Hodgkin’s Disease required X-rays, bone marrow biopsies, and surgical removal of the spleen. Now, physicians use noninvasive and less toxic positron emission topography (PET) scans to create a 3D image of the body. They inject glucose into the patient’s veins, which attracts cancerous cells and shows up on the PET scan.

Chemotherapy has also gone through a major transformation since the 1980s. It is now safer and more effective to use in early stages of cancer and new medications can help prevent chemotherapy-related side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and infection.

Even in advanced stages, Hodgkin lymphoma is highly curable with chemotherapy.

In the early stages, targeted radiation therapy is the most common treatment. Even when chemotherapy is not effective, stem cell transplants have proven effective to eradicate cancer.

Due to the new technological and medical improvements in treatment and diagnosis, the five-year survival rate for Hodgkin’s disease is now 90%. This is great news for the many young patients with blood cancer who benefit from these new advancements.

Source: UT San Diego.

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