What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs are designed to interfere with and halt the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells in the body. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we work closely with our patients to meet your individual needs before, during and after chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is an important part of treatment for many of our patients. Our physicians use leading treatment protocols and practice evidence-based medicine. In some cases, we may use innovative delivery methods to treat advanced stage cancer.
We strive to find the right chemotherapy drug, or combination of drugs, for each person. We may use tests, such as tumor molecular profiling, to identify an effective drug combination for your disease and help you avoid unnecessary toxicity.
We also understand that chemotherapy can have unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and mouth sores. We will work with the rest of your care team to help you prevent or manage these side effects.
In addition, throughout your treatment, we will continually monitor the effectiveness of your chemotherapy regimen with physical exams, blood tests and imaging scans.
Chemotherapy medical animation
Video: Chemotherapy Medical AnimationMedical animation
Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma
Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma often consists of giving several drugs together in a set regimen. 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 chemotherapy 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.
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 for Hodgkin lymphoma
Throughout your Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, your 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.