Treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma

If you have Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for HL, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the type of HL
  • the stage
  • the areas of the body affected by HL
  • if you have B symptoms (specific symptoms that affect the whole body, like fever)
  • if you have any unfavourable (adverse) risk factors, such as bulky (large) tumours
  • your age
  • your overall health
  • your risk of short-term or late side effects

HL is generally treated using chemotherapy, with or without radiation therapy. Find out more about treatments for classical HL and treatments for nodular lymphocyte-predominant HL. Changes to the treatment plan may be made based on your response to treatment.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Chemotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma . 2018: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/chemotherapy.html.
  • American Cancer Society. Radiation Therapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma . 2018.
  • American Cancer Society. Immunotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma . 2018: Monday, January 14, 2019.
  • American Cancer Society. High-dose Chemotherapy and Stem Cell Transplant for Hodgkin Lymphoma . 2018: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/high-dose-chemo-and-stem-cell.html. Thursday, January 07, 2021.
  • American Cancer Society. Treating Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma by Stage . 2018.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Lymphoma - Hodgkin . 2017.
  • Lash, Bradley W. Medscape Reference: Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment and Management . 2018.
  • National Cancer Institute. Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version . 2018.
  • Wiernik PH, Balzarotti M, Santoro A . Diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Wiernik PH, Goldman JM, Dutcher JP, Kyle RA (eds.). Neoplastic Diseases of the Blood. 5th ed. Springer; 2013: 45: 985-1013.
  • Younes A, Carbone A, Johnson P, Dabaja B, Ansell S, Kuruvilla J . Hodgkin's lymphoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 102: 1526-1551.

Treatments for classical Hodgkin lymphoma

The following are treatment options for classical Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Treatments for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

The following are treatment options for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Treatments for relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma

Relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) means that the cancer has come back after treatment. Primary refractory HL means that the cancer is resistant to the initial treatment.

Radiation therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It may be used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).

Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).

Stem cell transplant for Hodgkin lymphoma

A stem cell transplant may be used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). A stem cell transplant replaces a person’s stem cells. It is used to restore bone marrow when it has been damaged by disease or destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Targeted therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). It uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them. These molecules help send signals that tell cells to grow or divide. By targeting these molecules, the drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells and limit harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.

Immunotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Follow-up after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. People with HL should talk to their doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists, radiation therapist) and your family doctor.