Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Targeted therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma

People with lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma may be treated with a targeted therapy. The drug binds to lymphoma cells, and the body destroys them.

People receive targeted therapy directly into a vein through a thin needle. The drug may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, night sweats, or tingling hands or feet. Side effects usually go away after treatment ends.

You may want to read the NCI fact sheet Targeted Cancer Therapies to learn more about this type of treatment.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor about chemotherapy or targeted therapy

  • Which drug or drugs do you suggest for me? What will they do?
  • What are the possible side effects? What can we do about them?
  • When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatments?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • Will there be lasting side effects?

Radiation therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma

Many people with classical or lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma receive radiation therapy after chemotherapy. Some people with lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma receive radiation therapy without chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can destroy lymphoma cells, shrink tumors, and help control pain.

Radiation therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma is usually given by a large machine outside the body. This kind of radiation therapy won't make you radioactive. While you're lying on a treatment table, the machine will aim high-energy rays that you can't see or feel at the areas affected by the Hodgkin lymphoma. Each treatment session usually lasts less than 30 minutes. You'll probably go to a hospital or clinic for radiation therapy 5 days a week for several weeks.

Side effects may develop during radiation therapy or years later. Side effects depend mainly on how much radiation is given and on what part of your body receives treatment. For example, radiation to your chest and neck may cause a cough or shortness of breath.

It's common for skin in the treated area to become red, dry, and itchy. Check with your doctor before using lotion or cream in that area. After treatment is over, your skin will slowly return to normal.

You're likely to become tired during radiation therapy, especially in the later weeks of treatment. Although getting enough rest is important, most people say they feel better when they exercise every day. Try to go for a short walk, do gentle stretching exercises, or do yoga.

It may help to know that, in most cases, the side effects of radiation therapy are not permanent. However, you may want to ask your doctor about the chance of possible long-term effects. After treatment is over, some people have an increased chance of developing a second cancer, such as breast or lung cancer. Also, radiation therapy aimed at the chest may cause heart or thyroid disease.

Women who have radiation therapy aimed at the pelvis may have hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and their menstrual periods may stop. Menstrual periods are more likely to return for younger women.

Radiation therapy aimed at the pelvis can make both women and men unable to have children. This side effect may be temporary or permanent. People with Hodgkin lymphoma who may want to have a child after treatment should ask their health care team about ways to preserve their eggs or sperm before radiation therapy starts.

The NCI booklet Radiation Therapy and You has helpful ideas for coping with radiation therapy side effects.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor about radiation therapy

  • Why do I need this treatment?
  • When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatments?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • What side effects should I expect? What should I tell you about?
  • Are there any lasting effects?

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