Hodgkin lymphoma

Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma

Today, there are more treatment options for Hodgkin lymphoma than ever before. More people are able to control their disease or put it into remission, even in an advanced stage.

Our Hodgkin lymphoma specialists work closely with you, your family and each other to get you back to health. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), we provide all standard therapies for Hodgkin lymphoma and offer you access to the latest treatments through clinical trials.  

Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Remission A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some (but not all) signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. Standard care A treatment or other intervention currently being used and considered to be of proven effectiveness based on past studies.
“For Hodgkin lymphoma, it's generally the age and the stage of the patient that helps determine the treatments that are used.”
— Ryan C. Lynch, MD, hematologist-oncologist

Treatment plan

Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is different for each person. When it comes to treatment options, we think about every detail of your Hodgkin lymphoma, from type to subtype, along with your goals and priorities.

Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer.
Why do treatment plans differ?

The treatment plan we design for you depends on many factors, including:

  • Your type and subtype of Hodgkin lymphoma, because different types and subtypes start, grow and respond to treatments differently
  • If your Hodgkin lymphoma is slow-growing (indolent) or fast-growing (aggressive)
  • The stage of your disease
  • If you have had treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma in the past
  • Your age and overall health
  • Your needs and preferences, like what type of treatment schedule works in your life and if you want to join a clinical trial
Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
What is the standard therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma?

While treatment is different for each person, Hodgkin lymphoma is most often treated with chemotherapy. Sometimes this is the only treatment needed, but it may be combined with radiation therapy. Physicians most often use radiation to treat cancer in the spleen or in the lymph nodes in the neck, chest, armpits or groin. Targeted therapies (also called immunotherapies) are newer cancer treatments that work more selectively than standard chemotherapy and are often used with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma. 

If initial treatment doesn’t cure your lymphoma or your disease recurs, your physician may recommend a blood or marrow transplant. 

At SCCA, our standard always involves caring for you as a whole person. We help you get relief from side effects and provide many other forms of support, like integrative medicine, nutrition counseling and physical therapy.

Our patients can also choose to receive promising new Hodgkin lymphoma therapies that you can only get through a clinical trial. Many people come to SCCA to be part of these studies. Your care team will tell you about studies that may be right for you, so you can think about joining them. 

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Integrative medicine Combines conventional (standard) medical treatment with complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies that have been shown to be safe and to work. CAM therapies treat the mind, body and spirit. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Relapse The recurrence (return) of disease after an apparent recovery. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Spleen An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells and destroys old blood cells. It is on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies.

Learn about subtypes

Each of the two types of Hodgkin lymphoma, and their subtypes, acts differently. SCCA physicians have deep knowledge of these subtypes, and they know which therapies to use and when to use them.  

Hodgkin lymphoma specialists at SCCA see hundreds of patients every year, year after year, so they are very experienced with every type and subtype of this disease.

There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL)
  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL)
Lymphocyte A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes (white blood cells) are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes make antibodies, and T lymphocytes help kill tumor cells and help control immune responses. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer.
Classic Hodgkin lymphoma

In classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), which is about 95 percent of Hodgkin lymphoma cases, there are four subtypes. These subtypes are named for what’s happening to the lymph nodes and which kinds of immune-system cells are involved along with Reed-Sternberg cells:

  • Nodular sclerosis
  • Mixed cellularity
  • Lymphocyte-rich
  • Lymphocyte-depleted
Lymphocyte A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes (white blood cells) are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes make antibodies, and T lymphocytes help kill tumor cells and help control immune responses. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Reed-Sternberg cell Large, abnormal lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that may contain more than one nucleus. These cells are found in people with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL)

This is a rare type of Hodgkin lymphoma, which is only 5 percent of cases. It tends to grow more slowly than classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). This type involves nodules made up of lymphocytes and a type of Reed-Sternberg cells, sometimes called “popcorn” cells because of how they look. Over time, about 10 percent of these lymphomas turn into aggressive diffuse B-cell lymphoma, which is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For people who have early-stage NLPHL without any B symptoms, involved site radiation therapy is often all that's needed.

B-cell lymphoma A type of cancer that forms in B cells (a type of immune system cell). B-cell lymphomas may be either indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). Most B-cell lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphomas. A type of cancer that forms in B cells (a type of immune system cell). B-cell lymphomas may be either indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). Most B-cell lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphomas. There are many different types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. These include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. Prognosis and treatment depend on the type and stage of the cancer. B symptoms In lymphoma, B symptoms include unexplained fever, weight loss or night sweats. Lymphocyte A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in lymph tissue. The two main types of lymphocytes (white blood cells) are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes make antibodies, and T lymphocytes help kill tumor cells and help control immune responses. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma Any of a large group of cancers of the lymphocytes (white blood cells). Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever and weight loss. Any of a large group of cancers of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever and weight loss. There are many different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These types can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) and indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B cells or T cells. B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma. Lymphomas that occur after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation are usually B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease. Also called NHL. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Reed-Sternberg cell Large, abnormal lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that may contain more than one nucleus. These cells are found in people with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Treatment process

Depending on your lymphoma type, subtype, stage and overall health, you may respond to treatment in different ways. At SCCA, we choose, combine and schedule your treatments based on what will work best for you. Your care team will make sure you understand each type of treatment and all of your choices.

Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
“Combination chemotherapy is the standard of care for newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma. It works by affecting the cells in the body that are active and growing the fastest — these are normally cancer cells. But it also affects other cells that grow quickly, like hair and skin cells. That's why you can experience hair loss, nausea, stomach upset and skin and nail changes. It also affects the blood cells, which is why you’re at higher risk for infection, because white blood cell counts are low.”
— Ryan C. Lynch, MD, hematologist-oncologist
Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy, called “chemo” for short, uses medicines to kill fast-growing cells (like cancer cells) or to keep them from dividing, which is how cancers grow. Your hematologist-oncologist prescribes your chemotherapy and sets your treatment schedule. Usually, chemotherapy is given by infusion. Liquid medicine is put into a vein through an intravenous (IV) line. This can be a line in your arm (peripheral venous catheter) or a port in your chest (central venous catheter). Treatment happens in repeating cycles every two to six weeks.

Your SCCA team will talk with you about which drugs we recommend for you, how you’ll take them, your treatment schedule and what to expect. Your team will also explain how to take the best possible care of yourself during and after treatment and connect you with support resources throughout SCCA.

Cancer nurses who specialize in infusions will give you these treatments. They will watch over you during treatment, deal with any medical issues that come up and help keep you comfortable. 

ABVD regimen

Many people with Hodgkin lymphoma receive a chemotherapy combination of drugs called ABVD:

  • Doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin)
  • Bleomycin 
  • Vinblastine sulfate 
  • Dacarbazine 

For people with the most aggressive forms of Hodgkin lymphoma, your physician may use other combinations.

Learn More About Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Doxorubicin hydrochloride A drug that comes from the bacterium Streptomyces peucetius and is used to treat cancer. It damages the cell’s DNA, may kill cancer cells and blocks an enzyme needed for cell division and DNA repair. A drug that comes from the bacterium Streptomyces peucetius and is used alone or with other drugs to treat many types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, sarcoma, Wilms tumor and certain cancers of the lung, breast, stomach, ovary, thyroid and bladder. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Doxorubicin hydrochloride damages the cell’s DNA and may kill cancer cells. It also blocks a certain enzyme needed for cell division and DNA repair. Doxorubicin hydrochloride is a type of anthracycline antibiotic and a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. Doxorubicin is the active ingredient of doxorubicin hydrochloride. Also called Adriamycin and hydroxydaunorubicin. Hematologist A physician who specializes in diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues. Infusion An injection of medications or fluids into a vein over a period of time. Infusion An injection of medications or fluids into a vein over a period of time. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer.
Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is most often treated with chemotherapy. Sometimes this is the only treatment needed, but it may be combined with radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. A radiation oncologist decides on the type, dose and schedule of your treatment.

Usually, this means that a machine aims rays right at your tumor. You get this treatment daily, Monday through Friday, for several weeks.

For Hodgkin lymphoma, physicians most often use radiation to treat cancer in the spleen or in the lymph nodes in the neck, chest, armpits or groin. 

Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Spleen An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells and destroys old blood cells. It is on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
Radiation therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Based on your type of Hodgkin lymphoma and if it has spread, your physician may recommend external-beam radiation therapy, alone or along with chemotherapy.
 

Targeted therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Targeted therapies work in one of three ways:

  • They target a gene or protein that causes cancer growth.
  • They damage cancer cells directly.
  • They tell your immune system to attack certain cells. This is also called immunotherapy.

Who needs targeted therapy?

Patients with relapsed (the disease gets better but then gets worse) or refractory (does not respond to treatment) Hodgkin lymphoma are often good candidates for targeted therapy. 
For relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma, physicians use the targeted therapy brentuximab vedotin along with standard chemotherapy. Brentuximab works like a Trojan horse. It enters cancer cells and then releases a toxin that makes it harder for the cell to reproduce.

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Gene The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Refractory In medicine, refractory disease is a disease or condition that does not respond to treatment. Relapse The recurrence (return) of disease after an apparent recovery. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies.
Targeted therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Targeted therapies are newer cancer treatments that work more selectively than standard chemotherapy. 

Immunotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Nivolumab (Opdivo®) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) are antibody therapies that may boost your immune system’s anti-cancer response by blocking “off signals” on your T cells.

Who needs immunotherapy?

If you have classic Hodgkin lymphoma that progresses (gets worse or spreads) or comes back after other treatments, immunotherapy may be an option for you.

Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. T cell A type of white blood cell. T cells are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer. A type of white blood cell. T cells are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer. Also called T lymphocyte and thymocyte.
Immunotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Immunotherapies are some of the latest innovations at SCCA. They use the power of your immune system to fight your cancer. We are working hard to make immunotherapy part of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment in the best possible way. Our research teams are focused on finding out if immunotherapy can improve outcomes or if we can safely give patients fewer chemotherapy drugs. 

Blood or marrow transplant for Hodgkin lymphoma

Physicians and researchers at Fred Hutch pioneered blood and marrow transplants decades ago. Today, at SCCA and Fred Hutch, we continue to improve transplant techniques and develop new options.

A team of SCCA transplant experts will care for you. Your team will include a transplant oncologist, transplant nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, team coordinator and social worker.

Most transplant recipients with Hodgkin lymphoma have a transplant using their own stem cells (autologous transplant).

  • First, your stem cells are collected, frozen and stored.
  • Next, you receive strong chemotherapy to attack your cancer cells, destroy or suppress your immune system and prevent your body from forming new blood cells. You might get radiation therapy, too.
  • Then, your stored stem cells are thawed and returned to your bloodstream to restart your body’s ability to make healthy blood cells again.

If your lymphoma is very aggressive and chemotherapy has not shrunk your tumors, an autologous transplant is usually not an option. In this case, patients have a transplant using cells from a donor (allogeneic transplant).

More people are eligible for allogeneic transplants than ever before, due to advances available at SCCA, such as:

  • Non-myeloablative (lower-intensity) transplants, which use lower-dose chemotherapy
  • Transplants using stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood or haploidentical (half-matched) donors

Learn More About Blood and Marrow Transplants

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Stem cell A cell from which other types of cells develop. For example, blood cells develop from blood-forming stem cells.
Blood or marrow transplant for Hodgkin lymphoma

If initial treatment doesn’t cure your lymphoma or your disease comes back, your physician may recommend a blood or marrow transplant. The transplant resets your body’s ability to make healthy blood cells. 
 

Caregiving for transplant patients

Caregivers have a special role in blood and bone marrow transplants. This intense treatment involves strong chemotherapy (and sometimes radiation) with serious side effects. During the initial recovery period, which often takes at least a month, your loved one will need daily help. We have classes to prepare transplant caregivers. During recovery, a transplant registered nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help you.

Bone marrow The soft, spongy material in the center of your bones that produces all your blood cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.

Monitoring your health

While you are in active treatment, your care team will see you regularly for exams and tests to  check:

  • How well your treatment is working
  • If there is any reason to change your treatment
  • If you need help with side effects or supportive care services, like nutrition care or mental health counseling

We update your treatment plan based on the best scientific evidence as well as how your disease responds and what you prefer.

Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
What are the possible results of treatment?

Throughout treatment, your care team looks for signs of:

  • Remission: Fewer signs and symptoms of cancer. Partial remission means some signs and symptoms remain. Complete remission means there are no signs or symptoms.
  • Stable disease: No change in the extent or seriousness. The disease is not going away, but it’s not getting worse, either. 
  • Disease progression: The disease is getting worse or spreading.
  • Relapse: The disease, signs or symptoms have come back after they had improved.
  • Refractory disease: The disease does not respond to treatment.

What about “cured?” Sometimes physicians use the word “cured” if you have been in complete remission for at least five years. After five years, cancer is less likely to come back (recur), but recurrence is still possible.

Disease progression When the disease is getting worse or spreading. Recurrence Cancer that has come back, usually after a period during which it could not be detected. It may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or someplace else. Also called recurrent cancer. Refractory In medicine, refractory disease is a disease or condition that does not respond to treatment. Relapse The recurrence (return) of disease after an apparent recovery. Remission A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some (but not all) signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body. Sign In medicine, a sign is something found during a physical exam or from a laboratory test that shows that a person may have a condition or disease. In medicine, a sign is something found during a physical exam or from a laboratory test that shows that a person may have a condition or disease. Some examples of signs are fever, swelling, skin rash, high blood pressure and high blood glucose. Stable Cancer that is neither decreasing nor increasing in extent or severity. Symptom A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fatigue, nausea and pain.
For caregivers: Caregiving during treatment

If your loved one is getting chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy, there are many ways you can help. Caregiving during active treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma often means doing tasks like these:

  • Keeping track of their appointments and driving them to and from treatment
  • Watching for changes in their condition and telling their care team about any symptoms
  • Providing physical care, like helping them take medicines
  • Spending time with them and encouraging them
  • Taking care of things at home that they may not be able to do, like grocery shopping and cleaning
Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Targeted therapy A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. A type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells while causing less harm to normal cells. Some targeted therapies block the action of certain enzymes, proteins or other molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies help the immune system kill cancer cells, or they deliver toxic substances directly to cancer cells and kill them. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than other types of cancer treatment. Most targeted therapies are either small molecule drugs or monoclonal antibodies.

Supportive care services

Along with treating your Hodgkin lymphoma, SCCA provides a range of services to support you and your caregiver before, during and after treatment. This is part of how we take care of you — not just your disease.

From dietitians to chaplains, we have experts who specialize in caring for people with cancer. We also offer support groups to help connect patients to each other. We understand this may be one of the most intense and challenging experiences you and your family ever go through. We’re here to provide the care you need. 

Learn About Supportive Care Services
 

Caregiver A person who gives care to people who need help, such as children, older people or patients who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. A person who gives care to people who need help taking care of themselves, such as children, older people or patients who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. Caregivers may be health professionals, family members, friends, social workers or members of the clergy. They may give care at home, in a hospital or in another health care setting. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer.
“The reality is that even for those who make full recoveries like I did, cancer changes everything in their lives, and having people who have been there and done that to lean on when you may not have that in your personal life is a tremendous asset. Going through cancer is hardest thing that I have ever done, and having the support group is a crutch that I continue to lean on as I go forward in my life.”
— Ray, Hodgkin lymphoma patient

Managing side effects

You might be wondering about possible side effects from treatment, like hair loss or nausea from chemotherapy. If you are, it might be helpful to know that many of today’s treatments are more targeted to cancer cells, so they don’t cause as many side effects as standard chemotherapy. 

You are always at the center of everything we do. Hodgkin lymphoma physicians, nurses and advanced practice providers are here to help prevent or manage the side effects of treatment. 

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.
How to get help with side effects

Before you begin treatment, we talk with you about what to expect, based on your treatment plan, and what can help if you do have side effects.

At your appointments, we want you to tell us about any side effects you are having. If you have questions or concerns between appointments, you can call or email us. We will make sure you know how to reach care providers at SCCA after hours, if that is when you need us. 

We have many tools to help you feel better, such as:

  • Antibiotics, vaccines and antiviral drugs to prevent or treat infections
  • Transfusions, steroids and medicines that help the immune system treat low levels of blood cells (low blood counts)
  • Nutrition care and medicines to help with digestive problems
  • Conventional and integrative therapies for pain

Coping with Side Effects

Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Steroid A type of drug used to relieve swelling and inflammation. Some steroid drugs may also have antitumor effects. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
Common side effects of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment

Side effects are different depending on which treatment you get. They also depend on other things, like how strong your immune system is. These are some of the common side effects of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Unusual tiredness (fatigue)
  • Hair loss
  • Higher risk of infection (due to low levels of white blood cells)
  • Anemia (due to low levels of red blood cells)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding (due to low levels of platelets)
  • Problems in your digestive tract, like sores in your mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
  • Rash or other skin changes
  • Numbness, tingling or pain from nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Fever
Anemia A condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal. Digestive tract The organs that food and liquids travel through when they are swallowed, digested and absorbed before leaving the body as feces. The organs that food and liquids travel through when they are swallowed, digested and absorbed before leaving the body as feces. These organs include the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. The digestive tract is part of the digestive system. Also called alimentary tract and gastrointestinal tract. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Platelet A tiny, disc-shaped piece of a cell that is found in the blood and spleen. Platelets help form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding and to help wounds heal. A tiny, disc-shaped piece of a cell that is found in the blood and spleen. Platelets are pieces of very large cells in the bone marrow called megakaryocytes. They help form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding and to help wounds heal. Having too many or too few platelets, or having platelets that do not work as they should, can cause problems. Checking the number of platelets in the blood may help diagnose certain diseases or conditions. Red blood cell A type of blood cell that carries oxygen in the body. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.

Continuing care

When your disease is in remission and your active treatment ends, it is still important to get follow-up care on a regular basis. At follow-up visits, you will see the same team who treated your Hodgkin lymphoma. They will check your overall health and look for signs that your cancer has come back (signs of recurrence). 

Your team will also help with any long-term side effects (which go on after treatment ends) or late effects (which may start after treatment is over).

Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Recurrence Cancer that has come back, usually after a period during which it could not be detected. It may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or someplace else. Also called recurrent cancer. Remission A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some (but not all) signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Sign In medicine, a sign is something found during a physical exam or from a laboratory test that shows that a person may have a condition or disease. In medicine, a sign is something found during a physical exam or from a laboratory test that shows that a person may have a condition or disease. Some examples of signs are fever, swelling, skin rash, high blood pressure and high blood glucose.
Schedule for follow-up visits

Just like we personalize your treatment plan for you, we personalize your follow-up schedule, too. Your hematologist-oncologist will base your schedule on many things, including:

  • Your type and subtype of Hodgkin lymphoma
  • If your disease was slow-growing (indolent) or fast-growing (aggressive)
  • Which treatments you had and how your disease responded 
  • How the disease and treatments affected you 
  • How long it has been since your treatment ended

Most patients have follow-up appointments for at least five years, and some patients have them for the rest of their lives. It is common to have follow-up visits more often in the first months and years after active treatment ends and less often as time goes on.

Hematologist A physician who specializes in diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
What happens at follow-up visits

Hodgkin lymphoma follow-up usually means seeing your hematologist-oncologist for a physical exam and having blood tests to check your blood cell levels. If there are any changes, you might have tests to check the health of your bone marrow.  

Your physician will let you know if you need any imaging tests. You might have tests like a CT (computed tomography) scan or PET (positron emission tomography) scan. These can help check for recurrence (the cancer has come back), but they also expose you to some radiation. Together, you and your physician will decide on the benefits and risks.

Bone marrow The soft, spongy material in the center of your bones that produces all your blood cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Computed tomography A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. This scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment or find out how well treatment is working. Hematologist A physician who specializes in diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues. Imaging In medicine, a process that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Imaging uses methods such as X-rays (high-energy radiation), ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) and radio waves. Lymphoma Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. There are two basic categories of lymphomas. One is Hodgkin lymphoma, which is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The other category is non-Hodgkin lymphomas, which includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be further divided into cancers that have an indolent (slow-growing) course and those that have an aggressive (fast-growing) course. These subtypes behave and respond to treatment differently. Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults, and prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Recurrence Cancer that has come back, usually after a period during which it could not be detected. It may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or someplace else. Also called recurrent cancer.