From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders

September 10, 2020

Survival rates for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma have improved in the past few decades, largely due to advancements in treatment. The five-year relative survival rate for all patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma is now approximately 87 percent.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for older patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, especially those with advanced-stage disease. In one report, the five-year survival rate for patients age 80 – 99 is only 23 percent. There are several reasons for the poor outcomes in older patients, one of which is their inability to tolerate standard treatments.

Older patients often have other medical conditions, like diabetes and congestive heart failure, that make chemotherapy difficult for the body to tolerate. And aging itself is a contributing factor because as people get older, the function of their organs begins to decrease, and in turn, so does their ability to process strong chemotherapy.

In response to these challenges, the cancer experts at OHC are evaluating the drug, brentuximab vedotin to determine its effectiveness in treating Hodgkin lymphoma in older adults and others who are unable to tolerate intense chemotherapy. OHC is the only adult cancer practice in the region offering this treatment through its clinical trials program.

When brentuximab vedotin is combined with chemotherapy, it acts as a homing mechanism. It recognizes a specific antibody on the lymphoma cells and attaches to the cell. The chemo enters the cells and kills them when they try to divide into new cells. It doesn’t affect healthy cells and it doesn’t cause harsh side effects, making it easier for older patients to tolerate.

“I recently had a patient who was an ideal candidate for this treatment,” said OHC’s Mark Johns, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist. “I told them about the clinical trial and the treatment, and after a detailed discussion, the patient chose to participate in the clinical trial. The cancer responded remarkably well to the treatment. In fact, the recommended dosage is 16 cycles of treatment but after six, the patient experienced a complete response.”

“Age shouldn’t have to be a factor when deciding whether or not a patient receives treatment for their cancer, but when the treatment is too much for their body to handle, we have to pause and reflect on whether or not it’s truly beneficial for them. This is when choosing a cancer practice that offers a clinical trials program can be a huge benefit. A clinical trial can give them access to a promising and tolerable option to control their cancer and allow them more time to enjoy life,” Dr. Johns added.

With the right treatment plan and care, a patient can experience a remission from this disease. Learn more about treatments and clinical trials at OHC for Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers, or to request a second opinion, please visit or call 1-888-649-4800.

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