Hodgkin Lymphoma Chemotherapy
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Chemotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma
Many Hodgkin lymphoma patients receive chemotherapy (chemo) as part of their treatment regime. Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs designed to destroy lymphoma cells by impeding their growth and reproduction.
Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma often consists of giving several drugs together in a set regime. Because each medication destroys tumor cells in a different way, a combination of drugs may make the cells more vulnerable to treatment.
The following are some standard chemo regimens for Hodgkin lymphoma:
- ABVD: doxorubicin (adriamycin), bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine
- Stanford V: mechlorethamine, doxorubicin, vinblastine, vincristine, bleomycin, etoposide, prednisone
Depending on the regimen, Hodgkin lymphoma chemotherapy treatments may be administered in pill form, as an injection or intravenously. You may receive chemo alone, or in combination with radiation therapy and/or stem cell transplantation.
What to Expect Before & During Hodgkin Lymphoma Chemotherapy
Before your chemotherapy, your CTCA care team will meet with you to answer your questions and talk about what you can expect from treatment, including how we’ll help you manage potential side effects.
To minimize the discomfort of multiple needle pricks, our doctors can place a port (central venous access catheter) to deliver chemotherapy. A port can also be used to obtain intravenous fluids and blood samples throughout your treatment.
While you receive chemo in the hospital’s Infusion Center, we try to make you as comfortable as possible. You can read, watch TV, talk with family or friends, or nap in a private lounge chair. You can also choose to meet with a mind-body therapist and/or spiritual counselor to help you relax.
Hodgkin Lymphoma Chemotherapy-Related Side Effects
While chemotherapy destroys rapidly-dividing cancer cells, it can also affect normal cells, such as those in the hair, mouth, GI tract and bone marrow.
Sometimes, chemotherapy temporarily lowers your blood counts, causing:
- Increased risk of infection (from neutropenia, or low white blood cell count)
- Fatigue (from anemia, or low red blood cell count)
- Easy bruising and bleeding (from thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count).
Other side effects of chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma may include:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Weight loss
- Fertility problems
- Shortness of breath
- Cardiotoxicity (heart damage)
Helping You Manage Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Throughout your Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, your CTCA care team will use a combination of approaches to prevent or manage chemotherapy-related side effects.
Your doctor may prescribe certain drugs before you begin treatment to combat nausea or prevent infection. We’ll also do routine blood tests to monitor your blood cell counts. If your counts are low, we may use certain drugs or provide a transfusion to restore your counts to a normal level.
Additionally, therapies like nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, and oncology rehabilitation, can all help to reduce chemotherapy-related side effects and keep you strong so you can continue to participate in the activities you enjoy most.
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