The story of the young Hodgkin's lymphoma patient, Daniel Hauser, running away from chemotherapy created a lot attention in the media and on the Web.
Here are some facts:
Hodgkin's lymphoma was first described by the British physician Thomas Hodgkin in 1832. It remained a fatal disease for almost 100 years. The first evidence of cure was reported with radiation therapy in the early 1940s as approximately 20% of the patients could be cured, all of whom had early stage disease.
Patients with advanced stage Hodgkin's lymphoma remained non-curable until the 1960s when combination chemotherapy was introduced for the management of these patients. Today, several combination chemotherapy regimens (sometimes given with radiation therapy) are expected to cure approximately 70% of all patients. Patients with early stage Hodgkin's lymphoma have a cure rate of 85% to 90%.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have side effects that may include hair loss, nausea and vomiting, a decrease in the blood cell count, infertility, and in rare cases lung and heart damage. Patients who are cured may also develop second cancers later on. Despite these complications, chemotherapy remains the standard of care and has the best track record for curing patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Active research is ongoing to find gentler treatments that preferentially target the cancer cells with little or no damage to normal cells http://bit.ly/wQ3x9. These new experimental drugs are currently being investigated in patients with relapsed Hodgkin's lymphoma, but it will take a few years to incorporate them in front-line regimens. Therefore, patients should be encouraged to participate in these new clinical trials so these trials can be completed in a timely manner.
There are currently two promising drugs that are undergoing evaluation for possible approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: SGN-35 and Panobinostat. But other promising new drugs also are being evaluated, although they're at an earlier phase of testing. Some of these drugs are given as pills and others are given by infusions in the vein.
Alternative therapy has no track record of curing patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma. The medical community isn't against the use of alternative therapy as a principle. But because it doesn't cure patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma, the priority should be focused on using curative regimens.
For more information on current targeted therapy for patients with relapsed Hodgkin's lymphoma, please see the following links from ClinicalTrials.gov
For further information or to refer a patient to M. D. Anderson, please contact Anas Younes, M.D.,