Treatments are improving, and researchers even talk of a cure
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Here's an example of progress in cancer treatment: a trial that produced long-term survival rates better than 90 percent and that is described as outmoded because it's been replaced by treatments that get even better results with fewer side effects.
The cancer is Hodgkin's disease, a type of lymphoma, or cancer of lymph tissue found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. And the new findings come from a European group led by French physicians. They are reporting five-year, disease-free survival as high as 98 percent for patients with the most favorable prognosis and in the mid-80s or better for those who showed up with a worse outlook.
The results are published in the Nov. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
It's not an easy paper for a layman to read, because it is full of acronyms for the combination chemotherapy that was used (MOPP-ABV) and different cycles of radiation therapy. The study conclusion is that this "should be the standard treatment for Hodgkin's disease with favorable prognostic features."
But then there's the accompanying editorial by Dr. Volker Diehl of the University of Cologne, in Germany, which says that these results have been overtaken by time and better treatments.
MOPP-ABV now has been replaced by a different chemotherapy regimen, called ABVD, Diehl said, with even better survival rates. And research now is centered on such issues as possible reductions in radiation therapy, he said.
The standard procedure for people with early-stage Hodgkin's disease is to classify them as "higher" or "lower" risk on the basis of such things as age, symptoms and spread into lymph nodes, said Dr. Mitchell Smith, director of lymphoma service at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
About two-thirds of Hodgkin's cases are early sta
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