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Small study gives Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients hope

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells that qualifies sufferers for Social Security Disability benefits because of its chance for fatality. It is especially terrible because it is one of the most common cancers found in children and young adults in the United States, and there are about 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

Current treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients are often successful as the cancer is typically responsive to chemotherapy. But when the standard treatment doesn’t work on a patient, the cancer is often fatal, and each year more than 1,000 people die of the disease. Another discouraging aspect of the disease is that 25 percent of patients end up relapsing, WebMD reports. 

However, new research provides hope for Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients who have not responded to treatment. In what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has described as a "breakthrough therapy," a small study revealed that a new drug therapy may be effective at treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients who have not responded to previous treatments

The treatment involves a drug called nivolumab, which allows the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. The study involved 23 patients, many of whom had tried and failed numerous typical treatments.

When treatment was complete, the tumors had disappeared in four patients and the tumors in 16 patients had shrunk by at least half. Six months after the treatment, 86 percent of the patients were alive and still showing positive responses, and after a year, most of the patients were continuing to do well.

Now a large second phase of the testing is underway.

This is excellent news for Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients, especially those who are not successful with the current treatment available. Hopefully, in the near future, Hodgkin’s lymphoma will no longer claim the number of young lives it does, and patients will be able to move forward with their lives cancer free for good.

Source: WebMD, "Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment Shows Promise," Robert Preidt, Dec. 6, 2014

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