Antibody therapy uses immune-system proteins to target cancer cells. They are called monoclonal antibodies because many copies of the same antibody are made in the laboratory from a single source.
Brentuximab (Adcetris) is approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for treating relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in combination with standard chemotherapy. Brentuximab works like a Trojan horse. The cancerous cells it targets internalize the antibody, which then releases a toxin that interferes with the cancer cell’s ability to reproduce.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) doctors are conducting clinical studies to determine whether brentuximab is more effective than chemotherapy alone to treat newly diagnosed Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Getting Targeted Therapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
As standard care for relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphomas, brentuximab can be given at any of the SCCA infusion centers. Patients participating in clinical studies get treatment at the SCCA outpatient clinic on Lake Union. You may want to bring a friend or family member to sit with you during your treatment, which may take several hours.
Targeted therapy is usually given in cycles, which means you receive an infusion of your drugs intravenously (by IV) on one day, and then you wait a few weeks before receiving your next dose. This gives the drugs time to have an effect and also gives your body some time to recover before getting more. Six cycles are given over a period of four to six months.
Targeted drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy drugs, which affect both cancer cells and fast-growing normal cells. For this reason, targeted therapies often have different side effects, which may also be less severe.
The side effects of targeted therapies vary greatly from person to person and depend on the type and dose of drugs given, how they are given, and the length of time they are given. Your treatment team can tell you about the side effects that are most common with your treatment. Let your team know about any side effects you experience.
For general information to help you cope with side effects, visit our section on symptom management.