Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy is often used to treat lymphoma. It uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy lymphoma cells. Cytotoxic means the drugs are toxic to cells.

Most people have chemotherapy as an outpatient. Usually you have a combination of two or more chemotherapy drugs. The drugs are usually given as liquids into a vein (intravenously) or as tablets.

You have the chemotherapy drugs over one or a few days. Then you have a break of a few weeks without chemotherapy. The treatment and break is called a cycle of treatment. The break allows your body to recover from any side effects before you start the next cycle.

Your whole course of chemotherapy treatment may last several months. During this time, you have regular check-ups at the hospital. You usually have a scan before starting chemotherapy and then again at the end. You may also have a scan part of the way through your course of treatment. These scans help check how the treatment has worked in shrinking the lymphoma.

Chemotherapy drugs for Hodgkin lymphoma

There are several chemotherapy treatments that work well for Hodgkin lymphoma. The most commonly used treatments include the following:

  • ABVD – this is a combination of the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), ble-omycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine (DTIC). They are given into a vein.
  • BEACOPP – this is a combination of the chemotherapy drugs bleomycin, etoposide, doxo-rubicin (Adriamycin®), cyclophosphamide, vincristine (Oncovin®) and procarbazine. These are given into a vein except procarbazine, which you take as tablets. You also take steroid tablets called prednisolone.

All chemotherapy drugs can cause side effects. For some people, there is a higher risk that ABVD and BEACOPP may cause more serious side effects. Depending on your general health and age, your lymphoma doctor may suggest another chemotherapy that is safer for you. This may include:

  • VEPEMB – this is a combination of the chemotherapy drugs vinblastine, cyclophospha-mide, procarbazine, etoposide, mitoxantrone and bleomycin. These are given into a vein except procarbazine and etoposide, which you take as tablets. You also take prednisolone tablets.
  • ChIVPP – this is a combination of one chemotherapy drug that is given into a vein and two types of chemotherapy tablets. The drugs are chlorambucil, vinblastine, procarbazine. You also take called prednisolone tablets.

We have more information about different chemotherapy drugs and their side effects.

Chemotherapy

This video provides a brief overview of chemotherapy treatment, how it can be given, how it works and possible side effects.

About our cancer information videos

Chemotherapy

This video provides a brief overview of chemotherapy treatment, how it can be given, how it works and possible side effects.

About our cancer information videos

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Your feelings

You may experience difficult feelings while having chemotherapy treatment. Talking these over can be helpful.