"In a favorable group, you get close to 95 percent five-year survival with the right treatment," Smith said. "In the unfavorable group, it is close to 80 percent. Very few people relapse after five years."
The new approach is close monitoring of patients' condition during treatment to determine how much radiation therapy is needed -- not so much the amount but how large an area of the body should be irradiated. There is a hope that chemotherapy alone can cure some patients, Diehl's editorial said.
"Dr. Diehl and the German group are doing among the best Hodgkin work now," said Dr. Bart Kamen, chief medical officer of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. "It is an editorial right on the mark as far as I am concerned."
And Smith does not shy away from saying "cure," a word long shunned in cancer treatment. With a 95 percent disease-free rate after five years and few relapses after that, why not use the word when dealing with Hodgkin's disease, he asked.
"Most people will be comfortable with cure in five to 10 years," Smith said.
You can learn more about Hodgkin's disease from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Mitchell Smith, M.D., director, lymphoma service, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Bart Kamen, M.D., chief medical officer, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, White Plains, N.Y.; Nov. 8, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine
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