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Latest Research in Lymphomas

Across the world, radiation oncologists are actively researching safe and effective radiation treatments, including more personalized approaches and studies of lower doses for a variety of cancers. The following research studies were presented during the ASTRO Annual Meeting in Chicago in September 2019. Annually, ASTRO brings together more than 10,000 radiation oncology professionals to share the latest science and provide educational sessions, all designed to improve patient care, support clinical practice and advance science and research in the field of radiation oncology.

It is important to review and discuss all treatment options, including radiation therapy with your primary care physician before determining which option or combination of options is best for you and your lifestyle.

Studies in lymphoma

Download PDF of Lymphoma Studies

Hodgkin’s lymphoma: What’s the best level of treatment?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin’s disease) is one of the most curable cancers today. Since all cancer treatments come with side effects, current research often focuses on creating treatment plans that minimize the amount of treatment without losing effectiveness. Recent research has suggested that Hodgkin’s patients can skip radiation treatments if they have a good initial response to chemotherapy, but a new European study with more than a thousand patients contradicts that finding.

“Radiation therapy is still a key player in the management of Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” said principal investigator Hans Eich, MD, PhD, a radiation oncologist at University Hospital Muenster in Germany. He noted that radiation therapy was the only treatment for the disease several decades ago, but recent studies, including this one, indicate that a combination of chemotherapy and low-dose radiation achieves the highest level of tumor control with the least harmful effects.

Between November 2009 and December 2015, the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG) recruited 1,150 patients, ranging in age from 18 to 75, with newly diagnosed, early-stage favorable Hodgkin’s lymphoma, from Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands.

The patients all received chemotherapy, and positron emission tomography (PET) was used to evaluate how well they responded. They were then randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group one received a course of low-dose radiation therapy regardless of what the PET scan showed. Group two was divided into two arms based on their PET results. The patients whose PET scans showed a good response to chemotherapy received no further treatment aside from routine follow-up care, and the patients who responded less well received low-dose radiation.

The research team compared the chemotherapy-only group (300 patients) with the 328 patients in the chemo/radiation group who had similar PET results. They found that 93.4% of the patients receiving both chemotherapy and radiation were disease free after five years, compared with only 86.1% of the patients in the chemotherapy-only group. Dr. Eich said he was surprised at the size of the difference. Most often, the disease recurred at its original site, rather than showing up in other parts of the body.

“A limited, well defined, low-dose radiation therapy in conjunction with a limited chemotherapy offers the best chances for a cure in limited-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he said.