Cancer Information

Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®)


General Information

Fortunately, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975.[1] Children and adolescents with cancer should be referred to medical centers that have a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, radiation oncologists, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life. (Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)

Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics.[2] At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer.[1] Between 1975 and 2002, childhood cancer mortality has decreased by more than 50%. For Hodgkin lymphoma, the 5-year survival rate has increased over the same time from 81% to more than 94% for children and adolescents.[1] Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close follow-up since cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)

Overview of Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma

Childhood Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the few pediatric malignancies that shares aspects of its biology and natural history with an adult cancer. When treatment approaches for children were modeled after those used for adults, substantial morbidities (primarily musculoskeletal growth inhibition) resulted from the unacceptably high radiation doses. Thus, new strategies utilizing chemotherapy and lower-dose radiation were developed. Approximately 90% to 95% of children with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured, prompting increased attention to devising therapy that produces less long-term morbidity for these patients. Contemporary treatment programs use a risk-adapted approach in which patients receive multiagent chemotherapy with or without low-dose involved-field radiation therapy. Prognostic factors used in determining chemotherapy intensity include stage, presence or absence of B symptoms (fever, weight loss, and night sweats), and/or bulky disease.

Epidemiology

Hodgkin lymphoma comprises 6% of childhood cancers. In the United States, the incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma is age-related and is highest among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years (29 cases per million per year), with children ages 10 to 14 years, 5 to 9 years, and 0 to 4 years having approximately threefold, eightfold, and 30-fold lower rates, respectively.[3] In non-European Union countries, there is a similar rate in young adults but a much higher incidence in childhood.[4]

Hodgkin lymphoma has the following unique epidemiological features:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma has a bimodal age distribution that differs geographically and ethnically in industrialized countries; the early peak occurs in the middle to late 20s and the second peak after age 50 years. In developing countries, the early peak occurs before adolescence.[5]
  • The male-to-female ratio varies markedly by age. Children younger than 5 years show a strong male predominance (M:F = 5.3) and children aged 15 to 19 years show a slight female predominance (M:F = 0.8).[6][7]
  • There are three distinct forms of Hodgkin lymphoma:Childhood form—occurs in individuals aged 14 years and younger. The childhood form of Hodgkin lymphoma increases in prevalence in association with larger family size and lower socioeconomic status.[5] Early exposure to common infections in preschool appears to decrease the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma, most likely by maturation of cellular immunity.[8]Young adult form—effects individuals aged 15 to 34 years. The young adult form is associated with a higher socioeconomic status in industrialized countries, increased sibship size, and earlier birth order.[9] The lower risk of Hodgkin lymphoma observed in young adults with multiple older, but not younger, siblings, is consistent with the hypothesis that early exposure to viral infection (which the siblings bring home from school, for example) may play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease.[8]Older adult form—most commonly presents in individuals aged 55 to 74 years.
  • Rarely, clustering of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma within families has been reported, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the disease or a common exposure to an etiologic agent.

Epstein-Barr virus and Hodgkin lymphoma

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been implicated in the causation of Hodgkin lymphoma. A large proportion of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma have high EBV titers, suggesting that an enhanced activation of EBV may precede the development of Hodgkin lymphoma in some patients. EBV genetic material can be detected in Reed-Sternberg cells from some patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.

The incidence of EBV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma also shows the following distinct epidemiological features:

  • EBV positivity is most commonly observed in tumors with mixed-cellularity histology and is almost never seen in patients with lymphocyte-predominant histology.[10][11][12][13][14]
  • EBV positivity is more common in children younger than 10 years [10][14] compared with adolescents and young adults.[11][12]
  • The incidence of EBV tumor cell positivity for Hodgkin lymphoma in developed countries is 15% to 25% in adolescents and young adults.[13][14][15] There is a high incidence of mixed-cellularity histology in childhood Hodgkin lymphoma seen in developing countries, and these cases are generally EBV-positive (approximately 80%).[16]

EBV serologic status is not a prognostic factor for failure-free survival in pediatric and young adult Hodgkin lymphoma patients.[10] [13][14][15][17] Patients with a prior history of serologically confirmed infectious mononucleosis have a fourfold increased risk of developing EBV-positive Hodgkin lymphoma; these patients are not at increased risk for EBV-negative Hodgkin lymphoma.[18]

Immunodeficiency and Hodgkin lymphoma

Among individuals with immunodeficiency, the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma is increased, although not as high as the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Characteristics of Hodgkin lymphoma presenting in the context of immunodeficiency are as follows:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma usually occurs at a younger age and with histologies other than nodular sclerosing in patients with primary immunodeficiencies.[19]
  • The risk of Hodgkin lymphoma increases as much as 50-fold over the general population in patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome.[20]
  • Although it is not an AIDS-defining malignancy, the incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma appears to be increased in HIV-infected individuals, including children.[21][22]

Clinical Presentation

The following presenting features of Hodgkin lymphoma result from direct or indirect effects of nodal or extranodal involvement and/or constitutional symptoms related to cytokine release from Reed-Sternberg cells.

  • Approximately 80% of patients present with painless adenopathy, most commonly involving the supraclavicular or cervical area.
  • Mediastinal disease is present in about 75% of adolescents and young adults and may be asymptomatic. In contrast, only about 35% of young children with Hodgkin lymphoma have mediastinal presentation, in part, reflecting the tendency of these patients to have either mixed cellularity or lymphocyte-predominant histology.
  • Approximately 20% of patients will have bulky adenopathy (maximum mediastinal diameter one-third of the chest diameter or greater and/or a node or nodal aggregate larger than 10 cm).
  • Based on data from large cooperative group cohorts, 80% to 85% of children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma have involvement of lymph nodes and/or the spleen only (stages I–III).
  • The remaining 15% to 20% of patients will have noncontiguous extranodal involvement (stage IV). The most common sites of extranodal involvement are the lung, liver, bones, and bone marrow.[23][24]
  • Nonspecific constitutional symptoms including fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, pruritus, night sweats, and fever occur in approximately 25% of patients.[23][24]
  • Only three specific constitutional (B) symptoms have been correlated with prognosis—unexplained fever (temperature above 38.0°C orally), unexplained weight loss (10% of body weight within the 6 months preceding diagnosis), and drenching night sweats.[25]

Prognostic Factors

As the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma has improved, factors that are associated with outcome have become more difficult to identify. Several factors, however, continue to influence the success and choice of therapy. These factors are interrelated in the sense that disease stage, bulk, and biologic aggressiveness are frequently codependent. Further complicating the identification of prognostic factors is their use in determining the aggressiveness of therapy. For example, in a report from the German-Austrian Pediatric multicenter trial DAL-HD-90, bulky disease was not a prognostic factor for outcome on multivariate analysis. However, in this study, boost irradiation doses were given to patients who had postchemotherapy residual disease, which could have obfuscated the relevance of bulky disease at presentation.[26] This underscores the complexity in determining prognostic factors.

Pretreatment factors associated with an adverse outcome in one or more studies include the following:

  • Advanced stage of disease.[27]
  • Presence of B symptoms.[23][24]
  • Presence of bulky disease.[23]
  • Extranodal extension.
  • Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
  • Leukocytosis (white blood cell count 11,500/mm3 or higher).[27]
  • Anemia (hemoglobin lower than 11.0 g/dL).
  • Male gender.[24][27]
  • Response to initial treatment with chemotherapy.[21][28][29]

Prognostic factors identified in selected multi-institutional studies include the following:

  • In the Society for Paediatric Oncology and Haematology (Gesellschaft für Pädiatrische Onkologie und Hämatologie [GPOH]) GPOH-95 study, B symptoms, histology, and male gender were adverse prognostic factors for event-free survival on multivariate analysis.[24]
  • In 320 children with clinically staged Hodgkin lymphoma treated in the Stanford-St. Jude-Dana Farber Cancer Institute consortium, male gender; stage IIB, IIIB, or IV disease; white blood cell count of 11,500/mm3 or higher; and hemoglobin lower than 11.0 g/dL were significant prognostic factors for inferior disease-free survival and overall survival (OS). Prognosis was also associated with the number of adverse factors.[27]
  • In the CCG-5942 study, the combination of B symptoms and bulky disease was associated with an inferior outcome.[23]
  • One single-institutional study showed that African American patients had a higher relapse rate than Caucasian patients, but OS was similar.[30]

The rapidity of response to initial cycles of chemotherapy also appears to be prognostically important and is being used in the research setting to determine subsequent therapy.[28][29][31] Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is being evaluated as a method to assess early response in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma. Fluorodeoxyglucose-PET avidity after two cycles of chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma in adults has been shown to predict treatment failure and progression-free survival.[32][33][34] Further studies in children are required to assess the role of early response based on PET. The value of PET avidity to predict outcome and whether improved outcome can be achieved by altering the therapeutic strategy based on early PET response is to be determined.

Although prognostic factors will continue to change because of risk stratification and choice of therapy, parameters such as disease stage, bulk, systemic symptomatology, and early response to chemotherapy are likely to remain relevant to outcome.

1Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al.: Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2625-34, 2010.2Guidelines for the pediatric cancer center and role of such centers in diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics Section Statement Section on Hematology/Oncology. Pediatrics 99 (1): 139-41, 1997.3Ries LAG, Harkins D, Krapcho M, et al.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2003. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 2006. Also available online. Last accessed May 03, 2013.4Macfarlane GJ, Evstifeeva T, Boyle P, et al.: International patterns in the occurrence of Hodgkin's disease in children and young adult males. Int J Cancer 61 (2): 165-9, 1995.5Grufferman S, Delzell E: Epidemiology of Hodgkin's disease. Epidemiol Rev 6: 76-106, 1984.6Ries LA, Kosary CL, Hankey BF, et al., eds.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1973-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 1998. Also available online. Last accessed May 03, 2013.7Percy CL, Smith MA, Linet M, et al.: Lymphomas and reticuloendothelial neoplasms. In: Ries LA, Smith MA, Gurney JG, et al., eds.: Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER Program 1975-1995. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, 1999. NIH Pub.No. 99-4649., pp 35-50. Also available online. Last accessed May 03, 2013.8Chang ET, Montgomery SM, Richiardi L, et al.: Number of siblings and risk of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 13 (7): 1236-43, 2004.9Westergaard T, Melbye M, Pedersen JB, et al.: Birth order, sibship size and risk of Hodgkin's disease in children and young adults: a population-based study of 31 million person-years. Int J Cancer 72 (6): 977-81, 1997.10Armstrong AA, Alexander FE, Cartwright R, et al.: Epstein-Barr virus and Hodgkin's disease: further evidence for the three disease hypothesis. Leukemia 12 (8): 1272-6, 1998.11Araujo I, Bittencourt AL, Barbosa HS, et al.: The high frequency of EBV infection in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma is related to the classical type in Bahia, Brazil. Virchows Arch 449 (3): 315-9, 2006.12Makar RR, Saji T, Junaid TA: Epstein-Barr virus expression in Hodgkin's lymphoma in Kuwait. Pathol Oncol Res 9 (3): 159-65, 2003.13Herling M, Rassidakis GZ, Medeiros LJ, et al.: Expression of Epstein-Barr virus latent membrane protein-1 in Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells of classical Hodgkin's lymphoma: associations with presenting features, serum interleukin 10 levels, and clinical outcome. Clin Cancer Res 9 (6): 2114-20, 2003.14Claviez A, Tiemann M, Lüders H, et al.: Impact of latent Epstein-Barr virus infection on outcome in children and adolescents with Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 23 (18): 4048-56, 2005.15Jarrett RF, Stark GL, White J, et al.: Impact of tumor Epstein-Barr virus status on presenting features and outcome in age-defined subgroups of patients with classic Hodgkin lymphoma: a population-based study. Blood 106 (7): 2444-51, 2005.16Chabay PA, Barros MH, Hassan R, et al.: Pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma in 2 South American series: a distinctive epidemiologic pattern and lack of association of Epstein-Barr virus with clinical outcome. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 30 (4): 285-91, 2008.17Herling M, Rassidakis GZ, Vassilakopoulos TP, et al.: Impact of LMP-1 expression on clinical outcome in age-defined subgroups of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 107 (3): 1240; author reply 1241, 2006.18Hjalgrim H, Askling J, Rostgaard K, et al.: Characteristics of Hodgkin's lymphoma after infectious mononucleosis. N Engl J Med 349 (14): 1324-32, 2003.19Robison LL, Stoker V, Frizzera G, et al.: Hodgkin's disease in pediatric patients with naturally occurring immunodeficiency. Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 9 (2): 189-92, 1987.20Straus SE, Jaffe ES, Puck JM, et al.: The development of lymphomas in families with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome with germline Fas mutations and defective lymphocyte apoptosis. Blood 98 (1): 194-200, 2001.21Biggar RJ, Jaffe ES, Goedert JJ, et al.: Hodgkin lymphoma and immunodeficiency in persons with HIV/AIDS. Blood 108 (12): 3786-91, 2006.22Biggar RJ, Frisch M, Goedert JJ: Risk of cancer in children with AIDS. AIDS-Cancer Match Registry Study Group. JAMA 284 (2): 205-9, 2000.23Nachman JB, Sposto R, Herzog P, et al.: Randomized comparison of low-dose involved-field radiotherapy and no radiotherapy for children with Hodgkin's disease who achieve a complete response to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 20 (18): 3765-71, 2002.24Rühl U, Albrecht M, Dieckmann K, et al.: Response-adapted radiotherapy in the treatment of pediatric Hodgkin's disease: an interim report at 5 years of the German GPOH-HD 95 trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 51 (5): 1209-18, 2001.25Gobbi PG, Cavalli C, Gendarini A, et al.: Reevaluation of prognostic significance of symptoms in Hodgkin's disease. Cancer 56 (12): 2874-80, 1985.26Dieckmann K, Pötter R, Hofmann J, et al.: Does bulky disease at diagnosis influence outcome in childhood Hodgkin's disease and require higher radiation doses? Results from the German-Austrian Pediatric Multicenter Trial DAL-HD-90. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 56 (3): 644-52, 2003.27Smith RS, Chen Q, Hudson M, et al.: Prognostic factors in pediatric Hodgkin's disease. [Abstract] Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 51 (3 Suppl 1): 119, 2001.28Carde P, Koscielny S, Franklin J, et al.: Early response to chemotherapy: a surrogate for final outcome of Hodgkin's disease patients that should influence initial treatment length and intensity? Ann Oncol 13 (Suppl 1): 86-91, 2002.29Landman-Parker J, Pacquement H, Leblanc T, et al.: Localized childhood Hodgkin's disease: response-adapted chemotherapy with etoposide, bleomycin, vinblastine, and prednisone before low-dose radiation therapy-results of the French Society of Pediatric Oncology Study MDH90. J Clin Oncol 18 (7): 1500-7, 2000.30Metzger ML, Castellino SM, Hudson MM, et al.: Effect of race on the outcome of pediatric patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 26 (8): 1282-8, 2008.31Weiner MA, Leventhal B, Brecher ML, et al.: Randomized study of intensive MOPP-ABVD with or without low-dose total-nodal radiation therapy in the treatment of stages IIB, IIIA2, IIIB, and IV Hodgkin's disease in pediatric patients: a Pediatric Oncology Group study. J Clin Oncol 15 (8): 2769-79, 1997.32Hutchings M, Loft A, Hansen M, et al.: FDG-PET after two cycles of chemotherapy predicts treatment failure and progression-free survival in Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 107 (1): 52-9, 2006.33Gallamini A, Hutchings M, Rigacci L, et al.: Early interim 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography is prognostically superior to international prognostic score in advanced-stage Hodgkin's lymphoma: a report from a joint Italian-Danish study. J Clin Oncol 25 (24): 3746-52, 2007.34Dann EJ, Bar-Shalom R, Tamir A, et al.: Risk-adapted BEACOPP regimen can reduce the cumulative dose of chemotherapy for standard and high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma with no impairment of outcome. Blood 109 (3): 905-9, 2007.

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Cellular Classification and Biologic Correlates

Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by a variable number of characteristic multinucleated giant cells (Reed-Sternberg cells) or large mononuclear cell variants (lymphocytic and histiocytic cells) in a background of inflammatory cells consisting of small lymphocytes, histiocytes, epithelioid histiocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, plasma cells, and fibroblasts. The inflammatory cells are present in different proportions depending on the histologic subtype. It has been conclusively shown that Reed-Sternberg cells and/or lymphocytic and histiocytic cells represent a clonal population. Almost all cases of Hodgkin lymphoma arise from germinal center B cells that cannot synthesize immunoglobulin.[1][2] The histologic features and clinical symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma have been attributed to the numerous cytokines, chemokines, and products of the tumor necrosis factor receptors (TNF-R) family secreted by the Reed-Sternberg cells.[3]

The hallmark of classic Hodgkin lymphoma is the Reed-Sternberg cell,[4] which has the following features:

  • The Reed-Sternberg cell is a binucleated or multinucleated giant cell with a bilobed nucleus and two large nucleoli that give a characteristic owl's eye appearance.[4]
  • The malignant Reed-Sternberg cell comprises only about 1% of the abundant reactive cellular infiltrate of lymphocytes, macrophages, granulocytes, and eosinophils in involved specimens.[4]
  • Reed-Sternberg cells almost always express CD30, and approximately 70% of patients express CD15. CD20 is expressed in approximately 6% to 10% of cases, and generally Reed-Sternberg cells do not express B-cell antigens such as CD45, CD19, and CD79A.[5][6][7]
  • Most cases of classic Hodgkin lymphoma are characterized by expression of TNF-Rs and their ligands, as well as an unbalanced production of Th2 cytokines and chemokines. Activation of TNF-R results in constitutive activation of nuclear factor kappa B.[8]
  • Reed-Sternberg cells show constitutive activation of the nuclear factor kappa B pathway, which may prevent apoptosis and provide a survival advantage.[8]

Hodgkin lymphoma can be divided into the following two broad pathologic classes:[9][10]

  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into the following four subtypes:

  • Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Mixed-cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma.

These subtypes are defined according to the number of Reed-Sternberg cells, characteristics of the inflammatory milieu, and the presence or absence of fibrosis.

Characteristics of the histological subtypes of classical Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  • Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin lymphoma may have a nodular appearance, but immunophenotypic analysis allows distinction between this form of Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.[11] Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin lymphoma cells express CD15 and CD30, while nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma almost never expresses CD15.
  • Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma histology accounts for approximately 80% of Hodgkin lymphoma cases in older children and adolescents but only 55% of cases in younger children in the United States.[12] This subtype is distinguished by the presence of collagenous bands that divide the lymph node into nodules, which often contain an Reed-Sternberg cell variant called the lacunar cell. Some pathologists subdivide nodular sclerosis into two subgroups (NS-1 and NS-2) on the basis of the number of Reed-Sternberg cells present. Transforming growth factor-beta may be responsible for the fibrosis in the nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma subtype. A study of over 600 patients with nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma from three different university hospitals in the United States showed that two haplotypes in the HLA class II region were identified, which correlated with 70% increased risk of developing nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma.[13] Another haplotype was associated with a 60% decreased risk. It is hypothesized that these haplotypes result in atypical immune responses that lead to Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Mixed-cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in young children than in adolescents and adults, with mixed-cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma accounting for approximately 20% of cases in children younger than 10 years, but only approximately 9% of older children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 years in the United States.[12] Reed-Sternberg cells are frequent in a background of abundant normal reactive cells (lymphocytes, plasma cells, eosinophils, and histiocytes). Interleukin-5 may be responsible for the eosinophilia in mixed-cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma. This subtype can be confused with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma is rare in children. It is common in adult patients with human immunodeficiency virus. This subtype is characterized by the presence of numerous large, bizarre malignant cells, many Reed-Sternberg cells, and few lymphocytes. Diffuse fibrosis and necrosis are common. Many cases previously diagnosed as lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma are now recognized as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, or nodular sclerosis classical Hodgkin lymphoma with lymphocyte depletion.[14]

Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • There are variable estimates for the relative frequency of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma in the pediatric population, ranging from 5% to 10%. The relative frequency is higher for children younger than 10 years compared with children aged 10 to 19 years.[12] Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in males younger than 18 years.[15] A comprehensive review of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma addressing biology, evaluation, and treatment has been published.[16]
  • Patients with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma generally present with localized, nonbulky disease that infrequently involves the mediastinum.[15] Almost all patients are asymptomatic.
  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by molecular and immunophenotypic evidence of B-lineage differentiation with the following distinctive features:Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by large cells with multilobed nuclei, referred to as popcorn cells. These cells express B-cell antigens, such as CD19, CD20, CD22, and CD79A, and are negative for CD15 and may or may not express CD30.[16]The OCT-2 and BOB.1 oncogenes are both expressed in nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma; they are not expressed in the cells of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma.[17]Reliable discrimination from non-Hodgkin lymphoma is problematic in diffuse subtypes with lymphocytic and histiocytic cells set against a diffuse background of reactive T-cells.[18] Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma can be difficult to distinguish from progressive transformation of germinal centers and/or T-cell-rich B-cell lymphoma.[19]
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy produce excellent long-term progression-free survival and overall survival in patients with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma; however, late recurrences have been reported up to 10 years after initial therapy.[20][21][22]
  • Deaths observed among individuals with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma are more frequently related to treatment complications and/or the development of subsequent neoplasms (including non-Hodgkin lymphoma), underscoring the importance of judicious use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy at initial presentation and after recurrent disease.[20][21]
1Bräuninger A, Schmitz R, Bechtel D, et al.: Molecular biology of Hodgkin's and Reed/Sternberg cells in Hodgkin's lymphoma. Int J Cancer 118 (8): 1853-61, 2006.2Mathas S: The pathogenesis of classical Hodgkin's lymphoma: a model for B-cell plasticity. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 21 (5): 787-804, 2007.3Re D, Küppers R, Diehl V: Molecular pathogenesis of Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 23 (26): 6379-86, 2005.4Küppers R, Schwering I, Bräuninger A, et al.: Biology of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Ann Oncol 13 (Suppl 1): 11-8, 2002.5Portlock CS, Donnelly GB, Qin J, et al.: Adverse prognostic significance of CD20 positive Reed-Sternberg cells in classical Hodgkin's disease. Br J Haematol 125 (6): 701-8, 2004.6von Wasielewski R, Mengel M, Fischer R, et al.: Classical Hodgkin's disease. Clinical impact of the immunophenotype. Am J Pathol 151 (4): 1123-30, 1997.7Tzankov A, Zimpfer A, Pehrs AC, et al.: Expression of B-cell markers in classical Hodgkin lymphoma: a tissue microarray analysis of 330 cases. Mod Pathol 16 (11): 1141-7, 2003.8Skinnider BF, Mak TW: The role of cytokines in classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 99 (12): 4283-97, 2002.9Pileri SA, Ascani S, Leoncini L, et al.: Hodgkin's lymphoma: the pathologist's viewpoint. J Clin Pathol 55 (3): 162-76, 2002.10Harris NL: Hodgkin's lymphomas: classification, diagnosis, and grading. Semin Hematol 36 (3): 220-32, 1999.11Anagnostopoulos I, Hansmann ML, Franssila K, et al.: European Task Force on Lymphoma project on lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin disease: histologic and immunohistologic analysis of submitted cases reveals 2 types of Hodgkin disease with a nodular growth pattern and abundant lymphocytes. Blood 96 (5): 1889-99, 2000.12Bazzeh F, Rihani R, Howard S, et al.: Comparing adult and pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, 1988-2005: an analysis of 21 734 cases. Leuk Lymphoma 51 (12): 2198-207, 2010.13Cozen W, Li D, Best T, et al.: A genome-wide meta-analysis of nodular sclerosing Hodgkin lymphoma identifies risk loci at 6p21.32. Blood 119 (2): 469-75, 2012.14Slack GW, Ferry JA, Hasserjian RP, et al.: Lymphocyte depleted Hodgkin lymphoma: an evaluation with immunophenotyping and genetic analysis. Leuk Lymphoma 50 (6): 937-43, 2009.15Hall GW, Katzilakis N, Pinkerton CR, et al.: Outcome of children with nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma - a Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group report. Br J Haematol 138 (6): 761-8, 2007.16Shankar A, Daw S: Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents--a comprehensive review of biology, clinical course and treatment options. Br J Haematol 159 (3): 288-98, 2012.17Stein H, Marafioti T, Foss HD, et al.: Down-regulation of BOB.1/OBF.1 and Oct2 in classical Hodgkin disease but not in lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin disease correlates with immunoglobulin transcription. Blood 97 (2): 496-501, 2001.18Boudová L, Torlakovic E, Delabie J, et al.: Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma with nodules resembling T-cell/histiocyte-rich B-cell lymphoma: differential diagnosis between nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma and T-cell/histiocyte-rich B-cell lymphoma. Blood 102 (10): 3753-8, 2003.19Kraus MD, Haley J: Lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease: the use of bcl-6 and CD57 in diagnosis and differential diagnosis. Am J Surg Pathol 24 (8): 1068-78, 2000.20Chen RC, Chin MS, Ng AK, et al.: Early-stage, lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma: patient outcomes from a large, single-institution series with long follow-up. J Clin Oncol 28 (1): 136-41, 2010.21Jackson C, Sirohi B, Cunningham D, et al.: Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma--clinical features and treatment outcomes from a 30-year experience. Ann Oncol 21 (10): 2061-8, 2010.22Appel BE, Chen L, Buxton A, et al.: Impact of low-dose involved-field radiation therapy on pediatric patients with lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma treated with chemotherapy: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 59 (7): 1284-9, 2012.

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Diagnosis and Staging

Staging and evaluation of disease status is undertaken at diagnosis and performed again early in the course of chemotherapy and at the end of chemotherapy.

Pretreatment Staging

The diagnostic and staging evaluation is a critical determinant in the selection of treatment. Initial evaluation of the child with Hodgkin lymphoma includes the following:[1][2]

  • Detailed history of systemic symptoms.
  • Physical examination.
  • Laboratory studies.
  • Anatomic imaging including chest x-ray and computed tomography (CT) scan of the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
  • Functional imaging including positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

Systemic symptoms

The following three specific constitutional symptoms (B symptoms) correlate with prognosis and are considered in assignment of stage:

  • Unexplained fever with temperatures above 38.0°C orally.
  • Unexplained weight loss of 10% within the 6 months preceding diagnosis.
  • Drenching night sweats.

Additional Hodgkin-associated constitutional symptoms without prognostic significance include the following:

  • Pruritus.
  • Alcohol-induced nodal pain.

Physical examination

  • All node-bearing areas, including the Waldeyer ring, should be assessed by careful physical examination.
  • Enlarged nodes should be measured to establish a baseline for evaluation of therapy response.

Laboratory studies

  • Hematological and chemical blood parameters show nonspecific changes that may correlate with disease extent.
  • Abnormalities of peripheral blood counts may include neutrophilic leukocytosis, lymphopenia, eosinophilia, and monocytosis.
  • Acute-phase reactants such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein, if abnormal at diagnosis, may be useful in follow-up evaluation.

Anatomic imaging

Anatomic information from CT is complemented by PET functional imaging, which is sensitive in determining initial sites of involvement, particularly sites too small to be considered abnormal by CT criteria.

Definition of bulky disease

The posteroanterior chest radiograph remains important since the criterion for bulky mediastinal lymphadenopathy used in North American protocols is defined by the ratio of the diameter of the mediastinal lymph node mass to the maximal diameter of the rib cage on an upright chest radiograph; a ratio of 33% or higher is considered bulky. This definition is no longer used in some European protocols because it does not influence risk classification.

The criteria for bulky peripheral (nonmediastinal) lymphadenopathy have varied per cooperative group study protocols from aggregate nodal masses exceeding 4 to 6 cm. This disease characteristic has not been consistently used among all groups for risk stratification.

Criteria for lymphomatous involvement by CT

Defining strict CT size criteria for the establishment of lymphomatous nodal involvement is complicated by a number of factors, such as overlap between benign reactive hyperplasia and malignant lymphadenopathy and obliquity of node orientation to the scan plane. Additional difficulties more specific to children include greater variability of normal nodal size with body region and age and the frequent occurrence of reactive hyperplasia.

General concepts to consider in regard to defining lymphomatous involvement by CT include the following:

  • Contiguous nodal clustering or matting is highly suggestive of lymphomatous involvement.
  • Any focal mass lesion large enough to characterize in a visceral organ is considered lymphomatous involvement unless the imaging characteristics indicate an alternative etiology.
  • North American protocols have used a consistent size criteria: A measurable lesion by CT is defined as one that can be accurately measured in two orthogonal dimensions, which typically requires a lesion at least 1 cm in diameter for extranodal sites; lymph nodes are considered abnormal if the long axis is 1.5 cm or greater or between 1.1 cm and 1.5 cm with a short axis of at least 1.0 cm.
  • Criteria for nodal involvement may vary by cooperative group or protocol. For example, in the Society for Paediatric Oncology and Haematology (Gesellschaft für Pädiatrische Onkologie und Hämatologie [GPOH]) completed study (GPOH-HD-2002), nodal involvement was defined if the node was greater than 2 cm in largest diameter. The node was not involved if it was less than 1 cm and was considered questionably involved if it was between 1 cm and 2 cm. Involvement decision was then based on all further clinical evidence available.[3]

Functional imaging

The recommended functional imaging procedure for initial staging is now PET.[4][5] In PET scanning, uptake of the radioactive glucose analog, 18-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) correlates with proliferative activity in tumors undergoing anaerobic glycolysis. PET-CT, which integrates functional and anatomic tumor characteristics, is often used for staging and monitoring of pediatric patients with Hodgkin lymphoma. Residual or persistent FDG avidity has been correlated with prognosis and the need for additional therapy in posttreatment evaluation.[6][7][8][9]

General concepts to consider in regard to defining lymphomatous involvement by FDG-PET include the following:

  • Concordance between PET and CT data is generally high for nodal regions, but may be significantly lower for extranodal sites. In one study specifically analyzing pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma patients, assessment of initial staging comparing PET and CT data demonstrated concordance of approximately 86% overall. Concordance rates were significantly lower for the spleen, lung nodules, bone/bone marrow, and pleural and pericardial effusions.[10]
  • Integration of data acquired from PET scans can lead to significant changes in staging. In the previously mentioned study, PET findings resulted in a change in staging in 50% of patients (with a nearly equal number of patients up- and down-staged), and subsequent adjustments in involved-field radiation therapy treatment volumes in 70% of patients (more likely an addition rather than exclusion).
  • Staging criteria using PET and CT scan information is protocol dependent, but generally areas of PET positivity that do not correspond to an anatomic lesion by clinical examination or CT scan size criteria should be disregarded in staging.
  • A suspected anatomic lesion which is PET-negative should not be considered involved unless proven by biopsy.

FDG-PET has limitations in the pediatric setting. Tracer avidity may be seen in a variety of nonmalignant conditions including thymic rebound commonly observed after completion of lymphoma therapy. FDG-avidity in normal tissues, for example, brown fat of cervical musculature, may confound interpretation of the presence of nodal involvement by lymphoma.[4]

Establishing the Diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma

After a careful physiologic and radiographic evaluation of the patient, the least invasive procedure should be used to establish the diagnosis of lymphoma.

Key issues to consider in choosing the diagnostic approach include the following:

  • If possible, the diagnosis should be established by biopsy of one or more peripheral lymph nodes. Aspiration cytology alone is not recommended because of the lack of stromal tissue, the small number of cells present in the specimen, and the difficulty of classifying Hodgkin lymphoma into one of the subtypes.
  • An image-guided biopsy may be used to obtain diagnostic tissue from intra-thoracic or intra-abdominal lymph nodes. Based on the involved sites of disease, alternative noninvasive procedures that may be considered include thoracoscopy, mediastinoscopy, and laparoscopy. Thoracotomy or laparotomy is rarely needed to access diagnostic tissue.
  • Patients with large mediastinal masses are at risk of cardiac or respiratory arrest during general anesthesia or heavy sedation.[11] After careful planning with anesthesia, peripheral lymph node biopsy or image-guided core-needle biopsy of mediastinal lymph nodes may be feasible using light sedation and local anesthesia before proceeding to more invasive procedures. Care should be taken to keep patients out of a supine position. Most procedures, including CT scans, can be done with the patient on his or her side or prone.
  • If airway compromise precludes the performance of a diagnostic operative procedure, preoperative treatment with steroids or localized radiation therapy should be considered. Since preoperative treatment may affect the ability to obtain an accurate tissue diagnosis, a diagnostic biopsy should be obtained as soon as the risks associated with general anesthesia or heavy sedation are alleviated.
  • Because bone marrow involvement is relatively rare in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma patients, bilateral bone marrow biopsy should be performed only in patients with advanced disease (stage III or stage IV) and/or B symptoms.[12]

Ann Arbor Staging Classification for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Stage is determined by anatomic evidence of disease using CT scanning in conjunction with functional imaging. The staging classification used for Hodgkin lymphoma was adopted at the Ann Arbor Conference held in 1971 [13] and revised in 1989.[14] Staging is independent of the imaging modality used.

Table 1. Ann Arbor Staging Classification for Hodgkin LymphomaaStage DescriptionaReprinted with permission from AJCC: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 607-11.[15]I Involvement of a single lymphatic site (i.e., nodal region, Waldeyer's ring, thymus, or spleen) (I); or localized involvement of a single extralymphatic organ or site in the absence of any lymph node involvement (IE).II Involvement of two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm (II); or localized involvement of a single extralymphatic organ or site in association with regional lymph node involvement with or without involvement of other lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm (IIE). III Involvement of lymph node regions on both sides of the diaphragm (III), which also may be accompanied by extralymphatic extension in association with adjacent lymph node involvement (IIIE) or by involvement of the spleen (IIIS) or both (IIIE,S).IV Diffuse or disseminated involvement of one or more extralymphatic organs, with or without associated lymph node involvement; or isolated extralymphatic organ involvement in the absence of adjacent regional lymph node involvement, but in conjunction with disease in distant site(s). Stage IV includes any involvement of the liver or bone marrow, lungs (other than by direct extension from another site), or cerebrospinal fluid.Designations applicable to any stageA No symptoms.B Fever (temperature >38ºC), drenching night sweats, unexplained loss of >10% of body weight within the preceding 6 months.E Involvement of a single extranodal site that is contiguous or proximal to the known nodal site.SSplenic involvement.

Extralymphatic disease resulting from direct extension of an involved lymph node region is designated E. Extralymphatic disease can cause confusion in staging. For example, the designation E is not appropriate for cases of widespread disease or diffuse extralymphatic disease (e.g., large pleural effusion that is cytologically positive for Hodgkin lymphoma), which should be considered stage IV. If pathologic proof of noncontiguous involvement of one or more extralymphatic sites has been documented, the symbol for the site of involvement, followed by a plus sign (+), is listed. Current practice is to assign a clinical stage on the basis of findings of the clinical evaluation; however, pathologic confirmation of noncontiguous extralymphatic involvement is strongly suggested for assignment to stage IV.

Risk Stratification

After the diagnostic and staging evaluation data are acquired, patients are further classified into risk groups for the purposes of treatment planning. The classification of patients into low-, intermediate-, or high-risk categories varies considerably among the various pediatric research groups, and often even between different studies conducted by the same group, as summarized in Table 2.

Table 2. Criteria Used for the Classification of Risk Groups in Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Clinical TrialsaTrialLow RiskIntermediate RiskHigh RiskE = extralymphatic.aAdapted from Kelly.[16]Children's Oncology GroupAHOD0031 [17] IA bulk or E; IB; IIA bulk or E; IIB; IIIA, IVAAHOD0431 [18] IA, IIA with no bulkAHOD0831IIIB, IVBC5942 [19]IA, IB, IIA with no bulk, no hilar nodes and <4 sitesIA, IB, IIA with bulk, hilar nodes or ≥4 sites; IIIIVC59704 [20]IIB/IIIB with bulk, IVP9425/P9426 [21]IA, IIA with no bulkIB, IIA, IIIA1 with bulk; IIIA2IIB, IIIB, IVGerman Multicenter/EuronetGPOH-HD 95; GPOH-HD 2002; PHL-C1 [3][22][23]1A/B, IIAIEA/B;IIEA; IIB; IIIAIIEB; IIIEA/B; IIIB; IVStanford/St. Jude/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ConsortiumHOD05IB, IIIA, IA/IIA with E, ≥3 sites or bulkHOD08IA, IIA with no bulk, E and <3 sitesHOD99IIB, IIIB, IV

Although all major research groups classify patients according to clinical criteria, such as stage and presence of B symptoms, extranodal involvement, or bulky disease, comparison of outcomes across trials is further complicated because of differences in how these individual criteria are defined.

Response Assessment

Further refinement of risk classification may be performed through assessment of response after initial cycles of chemotherapy or at its completion.

Interim response assessment

The interim response to initial therapy, which may be assessed on the basis of volume reduction of disease, functional imaging status, or both, is an important prognostic variable in both early- and advanced-stage pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma.[24][25] Definitions for interim response are variable and protocol specific, but can range from volume reductions of greater than 50% to the achievement of a complete response with a volume reduction of greater than 95% by anatomic imaging or resolution of FDG-PET avidity.[3][18][21]

The rapidity of response to early therapy has been used in risk stratification to tailor therapy in an effort to augment therapy in higher-risk patients or to reduce the late effects while maintaining efficacy.

Results of selected trials using interim response to titrate therapy

  • The Pediatric Oncology Group used a response-based therapy approach consisting of dose-dense ABVE-PC (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vincristine, etoposide-prednisone, cyclophosphamide) for unfavorable advanced-stage patients in combination with 21 Gy involved-field radiation therapy (IFRT).[21] The dose-dense approach permitted reduction in chemotherapy exposure in 63% of patients who achieved a rapid early response after three ABVE-PC cycles. Five-year event-free survival (EFS) was comparable for rapid early responders (86%; treated with three cycles of ABVE-PC) and slow early responders (83%; treated with five cycles of ABVE-PC) followed by 21 Gy IFRT.
  • The Children's Cancer Group (CCG) (CCG-59704) evaluated response-adapted therapy featuring four cycles of the dose-intensive BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone) regimen followed by a gender-tailored consolidation for pediatric patients with stage IIB, IIIB with bulky disease, and IV Hodgkin lymphoma.[20] For rapid early responding girls, an additional four courses of COPP/ABV (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone/doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine) (without IFRT) was given in an effort to reduce breast cancer risk. Rapid early responding boys received two cycles of ABVD followed by IFRT. Slow early responders received four additional courses of BEACOPP and IFRT. Rapid early response (defined by resolution of B symptoms and >70% reduction in tumor volume) was achieved by 74% of patients after four BEACOPP cycles and 5-year EFS among the cohort was 94% (median follow-up, 6.3 years).

End of chemotherapy response assessment

Restaging is carried out upon the completion of all planned initial chemotherapy and may be used to determine the need for consolidative radiation therapy. Key concepts to consider include the following:

  • Defining complete response.Although complete response can be defined as absence of disease by clinical examination and/or imaging studies, complete response in Hodgkin lymphoma trials is often defined by a greater than 70% to 80% reduction of disease and a change from initial positivity to negativity on functional imaging.[26] This definition is necessary in Hodgkin lymphoma because fibrotic residual disease is common, particularly in the mediastinum. In some studies, such patients are designated as having an unconfirmed complete response. The definition of complete response varies by protocol/cooperative group. GPOH studies use very stringent criteria of at least 95% reduction in tumor volume or less than 2 mL residual volume on CT. Consideration of this difference in complete response criteria compared with that used in North American protocols is an important consideration for the omission of radiation therapy, which is stipulated in GPOH trials among favorable-risk patients achieving these strict complete-response criteria.[3]
  • Timing of PET scanning after completing therapy. Timing of PET scanning after completing therapy is an important issue. For patients treated with chemotherapy alone, PET scanning should be performed a minimum of 3 weeks after the completion of therapy, while patients whose last treatment modality was radiation therapy should not undergo PET scanning until 8 to 12 weeks postradiation.[27]
  • Use of anatomic and functional imaging to assess response.Response assessment using anatomic and functional imaging appears to be superior to that of anatomic imaging alone. A review of the revised International Workshop Criteria comparing Hodgkin lymphoma response evaluation by CT imaging alone or CT together with PET imaging demonstrated that the combination of CT and PET imaging was more accurate than CT imaging alone.[27][28] While the International Harmonization for assessment of FDG-PET response has been attempted in adults, it has yet to be evaluated in pediatric populations.[29][30]A Children's Oncology Group study evaluated surveillance CT and detection of relapse in intermediate-stage and advanced-stage Hodgkin lymphoma. The majority of relapses occurred within the first year after therapy or were detected based on symptoms, laboratory, or physical findings. The method of detection of late relapse, whether by imaging or clinical change, did not affect overall survival. Routine use of CT at the intervals used in this study did not improve outcome.[31]Caution should be used in making the diagnosis of relapsed or refractory disease based solely on anatomic and functional imaging because false-positive results are not uncommon.[32][33][34][35][36] Consequently, pathologic confirmation of refractory/recurrent disease is recommended before modification of therapeutic plans.
1Hueltenschmidt B, Sautter-Bihl ML, Lang O, et al.: Whole body positron emission tomography in the treatment of Hodgkin disease. Cancer 91 (2): 302-10, 2001.2Friedberg JW, Canellos GP, Neuberg D, et al.: A prospective, blinded comparison of positron emission tomography (PET) with gallium/SPECT scintigraphy in the staging and follow-up of patients (pts) with de novo Hodgkin's disease. [Abstract] Leuk Lymphoma 42 (Suppl 1): P-123, 64, 2001.3Mauz-Körholz C, Hasenclever D, Dörffel W, et al.: Procarbazine-free OEPA-COPDAC chemotherapy in boys and standard OPPA-COPP in girls have comparable effectiveness in pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma: the GPOH-HD-2002 study. J Clin Oncol 28 (23): 3680-6, 2010.4Hudson MM, Krasin MJ, Kaste SC: PET imaging in pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma. Pediatr Radiol 34 (3): 190-8, 2004.5Hernandez-Pampaloni M, Takalkar A, Yu JQ, et al.: F-18 FDG-PET imaging and correlation with CT in staging and follow-up of pediatric lymphomas. Pediatr Radiol 36 (6): 524-31, 2006.6Naumann R, Vaic A, Beuthien-Baumann B, et al.: Prognostic value of positron emission tomography in the evaluation of post-treatment residual mass in patients with Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Br J Haematol 115 (4): 793-800, 2001.7Hutchings M, Loft A, Hansen M, et al.: FDG-PET after two cycles of chemotherapy predicts treatment failure and progression-free survival in Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 107 (1): 52-9, 2006.8Lopci E, Burnelli R, Guerra L, et al.: Postchemotherapy PET evaluation correlates with patient outcome in paediatric Hodgkin's disease. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 38 (9): 1620-7, 2011.9Sucak GT, Özkurt ZN, Suyani E, et al.: Early post-transplantation positron emission tomography in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma is an independent prognostic factor with an impact on overall survival. Ann Hematol 90 (11): 1329-36, 2011.10Robertson VL, Anderson CS, Keller FG, et al.: Role of FDG-PET in the definition of involved-field radiation therapy and management for pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 80 (2): 324-32, 2011.11Anghelescu DL, Burgoyne LL, Liu T, et al.: Clinical and diagnostic imaging findings predict anesthetic complications in children presenting with malignant mediastinal masses. Paediatr Anaesth 17 (11): 1090-8, 2007.12Simpson CD, Gao J, Fernandez CV, et al.: Routine bone marrow examination in the initial evaluation of paediatric Hodgkin lymphoma: the Canadian perspective. Br J Haematol 141 (6): 820-6, 2008.13Carbone PP, Kaplan HS, Musshoff K, et al.: Report of the Committee on Hodgkin's Disease Staging Classification. Cancer Res 31 (11): 1860-1, 1971.14Lister TA, Crowther D, Sutcliffe SB, et al.: Report of a committee convened to discuss the evaluation and staging of patients with Hodgkin's disease: Cotswolds meeting. J Clin Oncol 7 (11): 1630-6, 1989.15Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010.16Kelly KM: Management of children with high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma. Br J Haematol 157 (1): 3-13, 2012.17Friedman DI, Wolden S, Constine L, et al.: AHOD0031: A phase III study of dose intensive therapy for intermediate risk Hodgkin lymphoma: a report from the Children’s Oncology Group. [Abstract] Blood 116 (22): A-766, 2010.18Keller FG, Nachman J, Constine L: A phase III study for the treatment of children and adolescents with newly diagnosed low risk Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). [Abstract] Blood 116 (21): A-767, 2010.19Nachman JB, Sposto R, Herzog P, et al.: Randomized comparison of low-dose involved-field radiotherapy and no radiotherapy for children with Hodgkin's disease who achieve a complete response to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 20 (18): 3765-71, 2002.20Kelly KM, Sposto R, Hutchinson R, et al.: BEACOPP chemotherapy is a highly effective regimen in children and adolescents with high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Blood 117 (9): 2596-603, 2011.21Schwartz CL, Constine LS, Villaluna D, et al.: A risk-adapted, response-based approach using ABVE-PC for children and adolescents with intermediate- and high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma: the results of P9425. Blood 114 (10): 2051-9, 2009.22Schellong G, Pötter R, Brämswig J, et al.: High cure rates and reduced long-term toxicity in pediatric Hodgkin's disease: the German-Austrian multicenter trial DAL-HD-90. The German-Austrian Pediatric Hodgkin's Disease Study Group. J Clin Oncol 17 (12): 3736-44, 1999.23Dörffel W, Lüders H, Rühl U, et al.: Preliminary results of the multicenter trial GPOH-HD 95 for the treatment of Hodgkin's disease in children and adolescents: analysis and outlook. Klin Padiatr 215 (3): 139-45, 2003 May-Jun.24Kung FH, Schwartz CL, Ferree CR, et al.: POG 8625: a randomized trial comparing chemotherapy with chemoradiotherapy for children and adolescents with Stages I, IIA, IIIA1 Hodgkin Disease: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 28 (6): 362-8, 2006.25Weiner MA, Leventhal B, Brecher ML, et al.: Randomized study of intensive MOPP-ABVD with or without low-dose total-nodal radiation therapy in the treatment of stages IIB, IIIA2, IIIB, and IV Hodgkin's disease in pediatric patients: a Pediatric Oncology Group study. J Clin Oncol 15 (8): 2769-79, 1997.26Molnar Z, Simon Z, Borbenyi Z, et al.: Prognostic value of FDG-PET in Hodgkin lymphoma for posttreatment evaluation. Long term follow-up results. Neoplasma 57 (4): 349-54, 2010.27Cheson BD, Pfistner B, Juweid ME, et al.: Revised response criteria for malignant lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 25 (5): 579-86, 2007.28Brepoels L, Stroobants S, De Wever W, et al.: Hodgkin lymphoma: Response assessment by revised International Workshop Criteria. Leuk Lymphoma 48 (8): 1539-47, 2007.29Juweid ME, Stroobants S, Hoekstra OS, et al.: Use of positron emission tomography for response assessment of lymphoma: consensus of the Imaging Subcommittee of International Harmonization Project in Lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 25 (5): 571-8, 2007.30Cheson BD: The International Harmonization Project for response criteria in lymphoma clinical trials. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 21 (5): 841-54, 2007.31Voss SD, Chen L, Constine LS, et al.: Surveillance computed tomography imaging and detection of relapse in intermediate- and advanced-stage pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 30 (21): 2635-40, 2012.32Nasr A, Stulberg J, Weitzman S, et al.: Assessment of residual posttreatment masses in Hodgkin's disease and the need for biopsy in children. J Pediatr Surg 41 (5): 972-4, 2006.33Levine JM, Weiner M, Kelly KM: Routine use of PET scans after completion of therapy in pediatric Hodgkin disease results in a high false positive rate. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 28 (11): 711-4, 2006.34Rhodes MM, Delbeke D, Whitlock JA, et al.: Utility of FDG-PET/CT in follow-up of children treated for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 28 (5): 300-6, 2006.35Meany HJ, Gidvani VK, Minniti CP: Utility of PET scans to predict disease relapse in pediatric patients with Hodgkin lymphoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 48 (4): 399-402, 2007.36Picardi M, De Renzo A, Pane F, et al.: Randomized comparison of consolidation radiation versus observation in bulky Hodgkin's lymphoma with post-chemotherapy negative positron emission tomography scans. Leuk Lymphoma 48 (9): 1721-7, 2007.

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Treatment for Newly Diagnosed Children and Adolescents with Hodgkin Lymphoma

Historical Overview of Treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Long-term survival has been achieved in children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma using radiation, multiagent chemotherapy, and combined-modality therapy. In selected cases of localized lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, complete surgical resection may be curative and obviate the need for cytotoxic therapy.

Treatment options for children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  1. Radiation therapy as a single modality. Recognition of the excess adverse effects of high-dose radiation therapy on musculoskeletal development in children motivated investigations of multiagent chemotherapy alone or with lower radiation doses (15–25.5 Gy) to reduced treatment volumes (involved-fields) and multiagent chemotherapy. It also led to the abandonment of the use of radiation as a single modality and restriction of its use in contemporary trials.[1][2][3]Recognition of the excess risk of cardiovascular disease and secondary carcinogenesis in adult survivors who were treated for Hodgkin lymphoma during childhood led to the restriction of radiation therapy as a single modality in contemporary trials.[4][5]
  2. Multiagent chemotherapy as a single modality.The establishment of the noncross-resistant combinations of MOPP (mechlorethamine, vincristine [Oncovin], procarbazine, and prednisone) developed in the 1960s and ABVD (doxorubicin [Adriamycin], bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine) developed in the 1970s made long-term survival possible for patients with advanced and unfavorable (e.g., bulky, symptomatic) Hodgkin lymphoma.[6][7] MOPP-related sequelae include a dose-related risk of infertility and secondary myelodysplasia and leukemia.[2][8] The use of MOPP-derivative regimens substituting less leukemogenic and gonadotoxic alkylating agents (e.g., cyclophosphamide) for mechlorethamine or restricting cumulative alkylating agent dose exposure reduces this risk.[9] ABVD-related sequelae include a dose-related risk of cardiopulmonary toxicity related to doxorubicin and bleomycin. The cumulative dose of these agents is proactively restricted in pediatric patients to reduce this risk.[10][11][12]In an effort to reduce chemotherapy-related toxicity, hybrid regimens alternating MOPP and ABVD or derivative therapy were developed that utilized lower total cumulative doses of alkylators, doxorubicin, and bleomycin.[13][14] Etoposide has been incorporated into treatment regimens as an effective alternative to alkylating agents in an effort to reduce gonadal toxicity and enhance antineoplastic activity.[15] Etoposide-related sequelae include an increased risk of secondary myelodysplasia and leukemia that appears to be rare when etoposide is used in restricted doses in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma regimens.[16]All of the agents in original MOPP and ABVD regimens continue to be used in contemporary pediatric treatment regimens. COPP (substituting cyclophosphamide for mechlorethamine) has almost uniformly replaced MOPP as the preferred alkylator regimen in most frontline trials.
  3. Radiation therapy and multiagent chemotherapy as a combined-modality therapy. Considerations for the use of multiagent chemotherapy alone versus combined-modality therapy include the following:Treatment with noncross-resistant chemotherapy alone offers advantages for children managed in centers lacking radiation facilities and trained personnel, as well as diagnostic imaging modalities needed for clinical staging. This treatment option also avoids the potential long-term growth inhibition, organ dysfunction, and solid tumor induction associated with radiation. Chemotherapy-alone treatment protocols usually prescribe higher cumulative doses of alkylating agent and anthracycline chemotherapy, which may produce acute- and late-treatment morbidity from myelosuppression, cardiac toxic effects, gonadal injury, and secondary leukemia. In general, the use of combined chemotherapy and low-dose involved-field radiation therapy (LD-IFRT) broadens the spectrum of potential toxicities, while reducing the severity of individual drug-related or radiation-related toxicities. The results of prospective and controlled randomized trials indicate that combined modality therapy, compared with chemotherapy alone, produces a superior event-free survival (EFS). However, because of effective second-line therapy, overall survival (OS) has not differed among the groups studied.[17][18]

Treatment Approaches

Contemporary treatment for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma uses a risk-adapted and response-based paradigm that assigns the length and intensity of therapy based on disease-related factors such as stage, number of involved nodal regions, tumor bulk, the presence of B symptoms, and early response to chemotherapy by functional imaging. Age, gender, and histological subtype may also be considered in treatment planning.

Risk designation

  • Favorable clinical features include localized nodal involvement in the absence of B symptoms and bulky disease. Risk factors considered in other studies include the number of involved nodal regions, the presence of hilar adenopathy, the size of peripheral lymphadenopathy, and extranodal extension.[19]
  • Unfavorable clinical features include the presence of B symptoms, bulky mediastinal or peripheral lymphadenopathy, extranodal extension of disease, and advanced (stages IIIB–IV) disease.[19] Bulky mediastinal lymphadenopathy is designated when the ratio of the maximum measurement of mediastinal lymphadenopathy to intrathoracic cavity on an upright chest radiograph equals or exceeds 33%.
  • Localized disease (stages I, II, and IIIA) with unfavorable features may be treated similarly to advanced-stage disease in some treatment protocols or treated with therapy of intermediate intensity.[19]
  • Inconsistency in risk categorization across studies often makes comparison of study outcomes challenging.

Risk-adapted treatment paradigms

  • No single treatment approach is ideal for all pediatric and young adult patients because of the differences in age-related developmental status and gender-related sensitivity to chemotherapy toxicity.
  • The general treatment strategy that is used to treat children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma is chemotherapy for all patients, with or without radiation. The number of cycles and intensity of chemotherapy may be determined by the rapidity and degree of response, as is the radiation dose and volume.
  • Ongoing trials for patients with favorable disease presentations are evaluating the effectiveness of treatment with fewer cycles of combination chemotherapy alone that limit doses of anthracyclines and alkylating agents.
  • Contemporary trials for patients with intermediate/unfavorable disease presentations are testing if chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be limited in patients who achieve a rapid early response to dose-intensive chemotherapy regimens.
  • Gender-based regimens consider that male patients are more vulnerable to gonadal toxicity from alkylating agent chemotherapy and that female patients have a substantial risk of breast cancer after chest radiation.

Histology-based therapy (stage I nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma)

Histological subtype may direct therapy in patients with stage I completely resected, nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, whose initial treatment may be surgery alone.

This treatment approach is supported by the following findings from the literature:

  • Both children and adults treated for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma have a favorable outcome, particularly when the disease is localized (stage I), as it is for most patients.[20][21][22][23]
  • Death among long-term survivors of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to result from treatment-related toxicity (both acute and long-term) than death from lymphoma.[24][25]
  • Although standard therapy for children with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma is chemotherapy plus LD-IFRT, there are reports in which patients have been treated with chemotherapy alone or with complete resection of isolated nodal disease without chemotherapy. In one trial of 52 nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma patients who were treated with chemotherapy alone, the 5-year EFS was 96%.[23][Level of evidence: 1iiDi] Surgical resection of localized disease produces a prolonged disease-free survival in a substantial proportion of patients obviating the need for immediate cytotoxic therapy.[21][22][26] Recurrence after surgical resection has not been associated with significant upstaging or histological transformation to a more aggressive B-cell lymphoma.[21]

A summary of treatment approaches for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma can be found in Table 8.

Radiation Therapy

As discussed in the previous sections, most newly diagnosed children will be treated with risk-adapted chemotherapy alone or in combination with consolidative radiation therapy (RT). RT volumes can have variable and protocol-specific definitions, but generally encompass lymph node regions initially involved at the time of diagnosis, without extensive inclusion of uninvolved regions. RT field reductions are made to account for tumor regression with chemotherapy.[27]

Volume considerations

With advancements in systemic therapy, RT field definitions have evolved and become increasingly restricted. RT is no longer needed to sterilize all disease. Advancements in radiologic imaging allow more precise radiation target definition. Historically, concerns about the symmetry of growth in young children with unilateral disease involvement often prompted treatment of the contralateral tissues. With contemporary treatments utilizing 15 to 21 Gy, treatment of contralateral uninvolved sites is not necessary in all but perhaps the very young.

General trends in radiation treatment volume are summarized as follows:

  • Total nodal and regional RT fields have largely been replaced by IFRT (see Table 3).
  • Targeted therapy, which involves restricting RT to areas of initial bulky disease (generally defined as ≥5 cm at the time of disease presentation) or postchemotherapy residual disease (generally defined as ≥2.5 cm or residual positron emission tomography [PET] avidity), is under investigation (COG-AHOD0831).
  • Involved-nodal RT, introduced by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Lymphoma Group and the Groupe d'Etude des Lymphomes de l'Adulte, remains investigational, although initial clinical data are emerging.[28][29] This approach defines the treatment volume using the prechemotherapy PET–computed tomography (CT) scan that is obtained with the patient positioned in a similar manner to the position that will be used at the time of RT. This volume is later contoured onto the postchemotherapy-planning CT scan. The final treatment volume only includes the initially involved nodes with a margin, typically 2 cm.
  • Involved-site RT is an evolving approach to be used for patients when optimal prechemotherapy imaging (PET-CT in a position similar to what will be used at the time of RT) is not available to the radiation oncologist. Because the delineation of the area of involvement is less precise, a somewhat larger treatment volume is contoured for RT, specifically the whole site where the lymphoma was located before chemotherapy was given. The exact size of this volume will depend on the individual case scenario.
Table 3. Sample Definitions of Sites and Corresponding Involved-Field Radiation Therapy Treatment Fieldsa Involved Node(s)Radiation FieldaAdapted from Hudson.[30]bUpper cervical region not treated if supraclavicular involvement is extension of the mediastinal disease.cPrechemotherapy volume is treated except for lateral borders of the mediastinal field, which is postchemotherapy.CervicalNeck and infraclavicular/supraclavicularbSupraclavicularNeck and infraclavicular/supraclavicular ± axillaAxillaAxilla ± infraclavicular/supraclavicularMediastinumMediastinum, hila, infraclavicular/supraclavicularb,cHilaHila, mediastinumSpleenSpleen ± para-aorticsPara-aorticsPara-aortics ± spleenIliacIpsilateral iliac ± inguinal + femoralInguinalInguinal + femoral ± iliacFemoralInguinal + femoral ± iliac

A breast-sparing radiation-therapy plan using proton therapy is being evaluated to determine if there is a statistically significant reduction in dose.[31] Long-term results are awaited.

Considerations in IFRT Treatment Planning

Traditional definitions of lymph node regions can be helpful for defining IFRT but may not be sufficient. The following issues should be considered in IFRT treatment planning:

  • In early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma, the definition of IFRT depends on the anatomy of the region in terms of lymph node distribution and patterns of disease extension into regional areas; protocol-specific RT fields in early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma may be even more restricted.
  • Because patients with early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma frequently relapse in initially involved lymph nodes, it may be prudent to reduce treatment fields to include only the initially involved lymph node(s).
  • Cervical and supraclavicular lymph nodes are generally treated when abnormal nodes are located anywhere within this area; this is consistent with the anatomic definition of lymph node regions used for staging purposes.
  • The supraclavicular lymph nodes are often treated when the axilla or mediastinum is involved, and the ipsilateral external iliac nodes are often treated when the inguinal nodes are involved. In both these situations, however, care must be taken to shield relevant normal tissues as much as possible. The decision to treat the axilla or mediastinum without the supraclavicular lymph nodes and to treat the inguinal nodes without the iliac nodes may be appropriate, depending on the size and distribution of involved nodes at presentation.
  • The hila are sometimes irradiated when the mediastinum is involved, even though the hila and mediastinum are separate lymph node regions.
  • The treatment volume for unfavorable or advanced disease is somewhat variable and often protocol-specific. Large-volume RT may compromise organ function and limit the intensity of second-line therapy if relapse occurs. In patients with intermediate or advanced disease, who often have multifocal/extranodal disease, the current standard of therapy includes postchemotherapy IFRT that limits radiation exposure to large portions of the body.[14][32]
  • A single-institution review of 53 Hodgkin lymphoma patients found that PET-CT information resulted in changing the IFRT design in 17% of patients, with most receiving more radiation.[33]

Radiation dose

The dose of radiation is also variously defined and often protocol specific. General considerations regarding radiation dose include the following:

  • Doses of 15 to 25 Gy are typically used, with modifications based on patient age, the presence of bulky or residual (postchemotherapy) disease, and normal tissue concerns.
  • Some protocols have prescribed a boost of 5 Gy in regions with suboptimal response to chemotherapy.[32]

Technical considerations

Technical considerations for the use of radiation therapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  • A linear accelerator with a beam energy of 6 mV is desirable because of its penetration, well-defined edge, and homogeneity throughout an irregular treatment field.
  • Individualized immobilization devices are preferable for young children to ensure accuracy and reproducibility.
  • Attempts should be made to exclude or position breast tissue under the lung/axillary blocking.
  • When the decision is made to include some or all of a critical organ (such as liver, kidney, or heart) in the radiation field, then normal tissue constraints are critical depending on chemotherapy used and patient age. Possible indications for whole-heart irradiation (~10 Gy) are pericardial involvement, as suggested by a large pericardial effusion or frank pericardial invasion with tumor.
  • Whole-lung irradiation (~10 Gy), with partial transmission blocks, are a consideration in the setting of overt pulmonary nodules.[32][34][35] For example, the GPOH HD-95 trial administered ipsilateral whole-lung RT to patients who had not achieved a complete response (CR) in the lungs to the first two cycles of chemotherapy.[32] COG-9425 and COG-AHOD0031 used whole-lung RT in patients with pulmonary nodules at diagnosis, with the latter protocol randomly assigning some patients on the basis of response.
  • While CT-based 2-dimensional radiation therapy remains the standard technique for radiation delivery in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT) or intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) may be considered in situations where the more conformal techniques would reduce dose to surrounding normal critical structures (e.g., when treating the thorax to spare dose to the heart, lungs, and developing breast tissue, or when treating the abdomen and pelvis to minimize dose to the highly radiosensitive reproductive organs).
  • Data are accumulating in regard to the efficacy of IMRT and the decrease in median dose to normal surrounding tissues. Some uncertainty exists about the potential for increased late effects from IMRT, particularly secondary malignancy, because with IMRT, a larger area of the body receives a low dose compared with conventional techniques (although the mean dose to a volume may be decreased).
  • Proton therapy is currently being investigated and may further decrease the mean dose to the surrounding normal tissue compared with IMRT or 3-D CRT, without increasing the volume of normal tissue receiving lower-dose radiation.

Role of LD-IFRT in childhood and adolescent Hodgkin lymphoma

Because all children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma receive chemotherapy, a question commanding significant attention is whether patients who achieve a rapid early response or a CR to chemotherapy require RT. Conversely, the judicious use of LD-IFRT may permit a reduction in the intensity or duration of chemotherapy below toxicity thresholds that would not be possible if single modality chemotherapy were used, thus decreasing overall acute and late toxicities.

Key points to consider in regard to the role of radiation in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  • The treatment approach for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma should focus on maximizing treatment efficacy and minimizing risks for late toxicity associated with both RT and chemotherapy.
  • The use of LD-IFRT in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma permits reduction in duration or intensity of chemotherapy and thus dose-related toxicity of anthracyclines, alkylating agents, and bleomycin that may preserve cardiopulmonary and gonadal function and reduce the risk of secondary leukemia.
  • Radiation has been used as an adjunct to multiagent chemotherapy in clinical trials for intermediate/high-risk pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma with the goal of reducing risk of relapse in initially involved sites and preventing toxicity associated with second-line therapy.
  • Compared with chemotherapy alone, adjuvant radiation produces a superior EFS for children with intermediate/high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma who achieve a CR to multiagent chemotherapy, but it does not affect OS because of the success of second-line therapy.[17][18] Adjuvant radiation therapy may be associated with excess late effects or mortality.[36]
  • Radiation consolidation may facilitate local disease control in individuals with refractory/recurrent disease, especially in those who have limited or bulky sites of disease progression/recurrence, or persistent disease that does not completely respond to chemotherapy.[37]

Additionally, when considering the role of RT in the initial management of Hodgkin lymphoma, one must carefully consider the endpoint that is being evaluated. Unlike most other pediatric malignancies, Hodgkin lymphoma is often salvageable if initial treatment does not result in a CR or if relapse occurs. For example, studies comparing combination chemotherapy with or without RT in adults with advanced-stage Hodgkin lymphoma showed that EFS was higher for patients who received initial chemotherapy and RT; however, OS was no different for patients whose initial therapy was chemotherapy alone.[38] Among adult Hodgkin lymphoma patients, study results conflict regarding whether adjuvant RT improves OS compared with chemotherapy alone, despite an improvement in EFS, because of the ability to effectively salvage patients who relapse after initial therapy.[39] Thus, it is not clear whether EFS or OS should be the appropriate endpoint for a trial comparing chemotherapy with or without radiation.

Finally, an inherent assumption is made in a trial comparing chemotherapy alone versus chemotherapy and radiation that the effect of radiation on EFS will be uniform across all patient subgroups. However, it is not clear how histology, presence of bulky disease, presence of B symptoms, or other variables affect the efficacy of postchemotherapy radiation.

Chemotherapy

All of the agents in original MOPP and ABVD regimens continue to be used in contemporary pediatric treatment regimens. COPP (substituting cyclophosphamide for mechlorethamine) has almost uniformly replaced MOPP as the preferred alkylator regimen in most frontline trials. Etoposide has been incorporated into treatment regimens as an effective alternative to alkylating agents in an effort to reduce gonadal toxicity and enhance antineoplastic activity.

Combination chemotherapy regimens used in contemporary trials are summarized in Table 4.

Table 4. Contemporary Chemotherapy Regimens for Children and Adolescents with Hodgkin LymphomaName DrugsDosage RouteDaysIV = intravenous; PO = oral.COPP [40]Cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 IV 1, 8 Vincristine (Oncovin)1.4 mg/m2IV 1, 8Procarbazine 100 mg/m2PO1–15Prednisone 40 mg/m2PO1–15COPDAC [40]Dacarbazine substituted for procarbazine in COPP250 mg/m2IV 1–3OPPA [40]Vincristine (Oncovin) 1.5 mg/m2 IV1, 8, 15 Procarbazine100 mg/m2PO1–15Prednisone60 mg/m2PO1–15Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) 40 mg/m2IV1, 15OEPA [40]Vincristine (Oncovin) 1.5 mg/m2 IV 1, 8, 15 Etoposide 125 mg/m2IV3–6Prednisone60 mg/m2PO1–15Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) 40 mg/m2IV1, 15ABVD [7]Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) 25 mg/m2IV1, 15Bleomycin10 U/m2IV1, 15Vinblastine6 mg/m2IV1, 15Dacarbazine 375 mg/m2IV1, 15COPP/ABV [14]Cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2IV0 Vincristine (Oncovin)1.4 mg/m2IV0 Procarbazine100 mg/m2PO 0–6Prednisone40 mg/m2 PO0–13Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)35 mg/m2IV 7 Bleomycin10 U/m2IV7Vinblastine6 mg/m2IV 7VAMP [41]Vinblastine 6 mg/m2IV1, 15Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)25 mg/m2 IV1, 15Methotrexate20 mg/m2 IV1, 15Prednisone40 mg/m2PO 1–14DBVE [42][43]Doxorubicin 25 mg/m2IV1, 15Bleomycin10 U/m2 IV 1, 15 Vincristine (Oncovin)1.5 mg/m2IV1, 15 Etoposide 100 mg/m2 IV 1–5ABVE-PC [34]Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)30 mg/m2IV0, 1 Bleomycin 10 U/m2 IV 0, 7Vincristine (Oncovin)1.4 mg/m2IV 0, 7Etoposide 75 mg/m2IV 0–4Prednisone40 mg/m2PO0–9Cyclophosphamide 800 mg/m2 IV 0BEACOPP [44]Bleomycin 10 U/m2IV7 Etoposide200 mg/m2IV 0–2Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)35 mg/m2IV0Cyclophosphamide1200 mg/m2IV1, 8Vincristine (Oncovin)2 mg/m2 IV7Prednisone40 mg/m2PO0–13Procarbazine 100 mg/m2 PO0–6CVP [45]Cyclophosphamide500 mg/m2IV1Vinblastine6 mg/m2IV1, 8Prednisolone40 mg/m2PO1–8

Results from Selected Clinical Trials

North American cooperative and consortium trials

The Pediatric Oncology Group organized two trials featuring response-based, risk-adapted therapy utilizing ABVE (doxorubicin [Adriamycin], bleomycin, vincristine, and etoposide) [43] for favorable low-stage patients and dose-dense ABVE-PC (prednisone and cyclophosphamide) for unfavorable advanced-stage patients in combination with 21 Gy IFRT.[34]

Key findings from these trials include the following:

  • Children and adolescents with low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma (stages I, IIA, IIIA1) treated with IFRT (25.5 Gy) after complete response to two cycles of DBVE (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vincristine, and etoposide) had outcomes comparable to those treated with four cycles of DBVE and IFRT (25.5 Gy). This response-dependent approach permitted reduction in chemotherapy exposure in 45% of patients.[43]
  • A dose-dense, early response–based treatment approach with ABVE-PC permitted reduction in chemotherapy exposure in 63% of patients who achieved a rapid early response after three ABVE-PC cycles.[34][Level of evidence: 1iiDi] Five-year EFS was comparable for rapid early responders (86%) and slow early responders (83%) treated with three and five cycles of ABVE-PC, respectively, followed by 21 Gy radiation. Patients who received dexrazoxane had more hematological and pulmonary toxicity.
  • Although etoposide is associated with an increased risk for therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia with 11q23 abnormalities, the risk is very low in those treated with ABVE or ABVE-PC without dexrazoxane.[16][46]

The Children’s Cancer Group (CCG) undertook a randomized controlled trial comparing survival outcomes in children treated with risk-adapted COPP/ABV hybrid chemotherapy alone with those treated with COPP/ABV hybrid chemotherapy plus LD-IFRT.[14] The study was closed early because of a significantly higher number of relapses among patients treated with chemotherapy alone. Long-term results include the following:[14][17]

  • Among patients who achieved a CR to initial therapy, the projected 10-year EFS (in an as-treated analysis) was 91% for those randomly assigned to receive LD-IFRT and 83% for those randomly assigned to receive no further therapy.
  • Estimates for OS did not differ between the randomized groups as a result of successful treatment after relapse (10-year OS rates were 97% for IFRT and 96% for no further therapy in the as-treated analysis).

Another CCG Study (COG-59704) evaluated response-adapted therapy featuring four cycles of the dose-intensive BEACOPP regimen followed by a gender-tailored consolidation for pediatric patients with stages IIB, IIIB with bulky disease, and IV Hodgkin lymphoma.[44][Level of evidence: 2Dii] For rapid early responding girls, an additional four courses of COPP/ABV (without IFRT) were given. Rapid early responding boys received two cycles of ABVD followed by IFRT. Slow early responders received four additional courses of BEACOPP and IFRT. Eliminating IFRT from the girl's therapy was intended to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Key findings from this trial include the following:[44]

  • Rapid early response (defined by resolution of B symptoms and >70% reduction in tumor volume) was achieved by 74% of patients after four cycles of BEACOPP.[44]
  • The 5-year EFS was 94% with a median follow-up time of 6.3 years.
  • Results support that early intensification followed by less intense response-based therapy results in high EFS.

The Stanford, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Boston Consortium administered a series of risk-adapted trials over the last 20 years. Key findings include the following:

  • Substitution of nonalkylating agent chemotherapy (e.g., methotrexate or etoposide) as an alternative to alkylating agent chemotherapy results in an inferior EFS among patients with unfavorable clinical presentations. [47][48]
  • The combination of vinblastine, doxorubicin, methotrexate, and prednisone (VAMP) is an effective regimen (10-year EFS, 89%) for favorable-risk (low stage without B symptoms or bulky disease) children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma when used in combination with response-based LD-IFRT (15–25.5 Gy).[41]
  • Patients with favorable-risk Hodgkin lymphoma treated with four cycles of VAMP chemotherapy alone who achieve an early CR have a comparable 5-year EFS to those treated with four cycles of VAMP chemotherapy plus 25.5 Gy IFRT (89% vs. 88%).[49]

German multicenter trials

In the last 30 years, German investigators have implemented a series of risk-adapted trials evaluating gender-based treatments featuring multiagent chemotherapy with OPPA/COPP and IFRT.

Key findings from these trials include the following:

  • Substitution of cyclophosphamide for mechlorethamine in the MOPP combination results in a low risk of secondary myelodysplasia/leukemia.[9]
  • Omission of procarbazine from the OPPA combination and substitution of methotrexate for procarbazine in the COPP combination (OPA/COMP) results in a substantially inferior EFS.[50]
  • Substitution of etoposide for procarbazine in the OPPA combination (OEPA) in boys produces comparable EFS to that of girls treated with OPPA and is associated with hormonal parameters, suggesting lower risk of gonadal toxicity.[51]
  • Omission of radiation for patients completely responding to risk- and gender-based OEPA or OPPA/COPP chemotherapy results in a significantly lower EFS in intermediate- and high-risk patients compared with irradiated patients (79% vs. 91%), but no difference among nonirradiated and irradiated patients assigned to the favorable-risk group.[18]
  • Substitution of dacarbazine for procarbazine (OEPA-COPDAC) in boys produces comparable results to standard OPPA-COPP in girls when used in combination with IFRT for intermediate- and high-risk patients.[40][Level of evidence: 2A]

Accepted Risk-Adapted Treatment Strategies for Newly Diagnosed Children and Adolescents with Hodgkin Lymphoma

Contemporary trials for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma involve a risk-adapted, response-based treatment approach that titrates the length and intensity of chemotherapy and dose of radiation based on disease-related factors including stage, number of involved nodal regions, tumor bulk, the presence of B symptoms, and early response to chemotherapy as determined by functional imaging. In addition, vulnerability related to age and gender is also considered in treatment planning.

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma low-risk disease

Table 5. Low-Risk Disease (Stages I–IIA; No Bulky Disease; No B Symptoms)Chemotherapy (No. of Cycles)a Radiation (Gy)StageNo. of PatientsEvent-Free Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)CS = clinical stage; IFRT = involved-field radiation therapy; N/A = not applicable; No. = number.aRefer to Table 4 for more information about the chemotherapy regimens.bWithout bulky mediastinal (defined as one-third or more of intrathoracic ratio measured on an upright posteroanterior chest radiograph) or peripheral lymphadenopathy (defined as 6 cm or more) or B symptoms.cWithout adverse features, defined as one or more of the following: hilar adenopathy, involvement of more than four nodal regions; mediastinal tumor with diameter equal to or larger than one-third of the chest diameter, and node or nodal aggregate with a diameter larger than 10 cm.dResults from as-treated analysis.VAMP (4) [41]IFRT (15–25.5)CS I/IIb11089% (10)96% (10)VAMP (4) [49]IFRT (25.5) CS I/IIb4188% (5)100% (5) None4789% (5)COPP/ABV (4) [14][17]IFRT (21)CS IA/B, IIAc94100% (10)d97% (10)dNone11389% (10)d96% (10)dOEPA/OPPA (2) [18] IFRT (20–35) I, IIA 28194% (5)N/ANone11397% (5)ABVE (2-4) [43]IFRT (25.5)IA, IIA, IIIA15191% (6)98% (6)

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma intermediate-risk disease

Table 6. Intermediate-Risk Disease (All Stage I and Stage II Patients Not Classified as Early Stage; Stage IIIA; Stage IVA)Chemotherapy (No. of Cycles)a Radiation (Gy)StageNo. of PatientsEvent-Free Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)CS = clinical stage; E = extralymphatic; IFRT = involved-field radiation therapy; N/A = not applicable.aRefer to Table 4 for more information about the chemotherapy regimens.bWith adverse disease features, defined as one or more of the following: hilar adenopathy, involvement of more than four nodal regions; mediastinal tumor with diameter equal to or larger than one-third of the chest diameter, and node or nodal aggregate with a diameter larger than 10 cm.cResults from as-treated analysis.COPP/ABV (6) [17]IFRT (21)CS I/IIb, CS IIB, CS III10384% (10)c100% (3) None12278% (10)cOEPA/OPPA (2) + COPP (2) [18]IFRT (20–35)IIEA, IIB, IIIA21292% (5)N/AOEPA/OPPA (2) + COPDAC (2) [40] IFRT (20–35)IIEB, IIIEA/B, IIIB, IVA/B13988.3% (5)98.5% (5)ABVE-PC (3–5) [34]IFRT (21)IB, IIA, IIIA5384% (5)95% (5)

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma high-risk disease

Table 7. High-Risk Disease (Stages IIIB, IVB)Chemotherapy (No. of Cycles)a Radiation (Gy)StageNo. of PatientsEvent-Free Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)E = extralymphatic; IFRT = involved-field radiation therapy; N/A = not applicable; No. = number; RER = rapid early response; SER = slow early response.aRefer to Table 4 for more information about the chemotherapy regimens.OEPA/OPPA (2) + COPP (4) [18]IFRT (20–35)IIEB, IIIEA/B, IIIB, IVA/B26591% (5)N/AOEPA/OPPA (2) + COPDAC (4) [40]IFRT (20–35)IIEB, IIIEA/B, IIIB, IVA/B23986.9% (5)94.9% (5)ABVE-PC (3-5) [34]IFRT (21) IB, IIA, IIIA16385% (5)95% (5)BEACOPP (4); COPP/ABV (4) (RER; girls) [44] None IIB, IIIB, IV3894% (5)97% (5)BEACOPP (4); ABVD (2) (RER; boys) [44] IFRT (21) IIB, IIIB, IV34BEACOPP (8) (SER) [44]IFRT (21) IIB, IIIB, IV25

Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

The use of combination chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy can achieve excellent long-term progression-free survival and OS in patients with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.[23][52][53] Late recurrences have been reported and are typically responsive to re-treatment. Because deaths observed among individuals with this histological subtype are more frequently related to complications from cytotoxic therapy, risk-adapted treatment assignment is particularly important for limiting exposure to agents with established dose-related toxicities.[52][53] Table 8 summarizes the results of contemporary treatment approaches used for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, some of which feature surgery alone for completely resected disease and limited cycles of chemotherapy with or without low-dose IFRT. Because of the relative rarity of this subtype, most trials are limited by small cohort numbers and nonrandom allocation of treatment.

Table 8. Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin LymphomaChemotherapy (No. of Cycles)aRadiation (Gy)No. of PatientsEvent-Free Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)Survival (No. of Years of Follow-up)IFRT = involved-field radiation therapy; N/A = not applicable; No. = number.aRefer to Table 4 for more information about the chemotherapy regimens.bAllocation to radiation therapy or no radiation therapy based on response to therapy.cAllocation based on clinical response.dAll involved lymph nodes surgically resected.COPP/ABV (4)b [23]None 5296% (5)100% (5) IFRT (21)29100% (5)CVP (3) [45]None5574% (5)100% (5)VAMP (4)c [49]None 2687.5% (5)N/AIFRT (25)6VAMP (4) [41]IFRT (15–25.5)33100% (10)100% (10)Noned [21] None 5167% (2)100% (2)DBVE (2–4)c [43]None 26 94% (8)100% (8)IFRT (25.5)

Treatment of Adolescents and Young Adults with Hodgkin Lymphoma

The treatment approach used for adolescents and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma may vary based on community referral patterns and age restrictions at pediatric cancer centers. In patients with high-risk disease, the standard of care in medical oncology practices typically involves at least six cycles of ABVD chemotherapy that would deliver a cumulative anthracycline dose of 300 mg/m2.[54][55] In late-health outcomes studies of pediatric cancer survivors, the risk of anthracycline cardiomyopathy has been shown to exponentially increase after exposure to cumulative anthracycline doses of 250 mg/m2 to 300 mg/m2.[56][57] Subsequent need for mediastinal radiation can further enhance the risk of a variety of late cardiac events.[56][57][58] In an effort to optimize disease control and preserve both cardiac and gonadal function, pediatric regimens for low-risk disease most often feature a restricted number of cycles of ABVD or derivative combinations, whereas alkylating agents and etoposide are integrated into anthracycline-containing regimens for those with intermediate- and high-risk disease.

Participation in a clinical trial should be considered for adolescent and young adult patients with Hodgkin lymphoma. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I childhood Hodgkin lymphoma, stage II childhood Hodgkin lymphoma, stage III childhood Hodgkin lymphoma and stage IV childhood Hodgkin lymphoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

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J Clin Oncol 20 (18): 3765-71, 2002.15Gerres L, Brämswig JH, Schlegel W, et al.: The effects of etoposide on testicular function in boys treated for Hodgkin's disease. Cancer 83 (10): 2217-22, 1998.16Smith MA, Rubinstein L, Anderson JR, et al.: Secondary leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome after treatment with epipodophyllotoxins. J Clin Oncol 17 (2): 569-77, 1999.17Wolden SL, Chen L, Kelly KM, et al.: Long-term results of CCG 5942: a randomized comparison of chemotherapy with and without radiotherapy for children with Hodgkin's lymphoma--a report from the Children's Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 30 (26): 3174-80, 2012.18Dörffel W, Lüders H, Rühl U, et al.: Preliminary results of the multicenter trial GPOH-HD 95 for the treatment of Hodgkin's disease in children and adolescents: analysis and outlook. Klin Padiatr 215 (3): 139-45, 2003 May-Jun.19Kelly KM: Management of children with high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma. 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Pediatr Blood Cancer 59 (7): 1284-9, 2012.24Diehl V, Sextro M, Franklin J, et al.: Clinical presentation, course, and prognostic factors in lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's disease and lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin's disease: report from the European Task Force on Lymphoma Project on Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin's Disease. J Clin Oncol 17 (3): 776-83, 1999.25Sandoval C, Venkateswaran L, Billups C, et al.: Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin disease in children. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 24 (4): 269-73, 2002.26Shankar A, Daw S: Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents--a comprehensive review of biology, clinical course and treatment options. Br J Haematol 159 (3): 288-98, 2012.27Yahalom J, Mauch P: The involved field is back: issues in delineating the radiation field in Hodgkin's disease. Ann Oncol 13 (Suppl 1): 79-83, 2002.28Girinsky T, van der Maazen R, Specht L, et al.: Involved-node radiotherapy (INRT) in patients with early Hodgkin lymphoma: concepts and guidelines. Radiother Oncol 79 (3): 270-7, 2006.29Campbell BA, Voss N, Pickles T, et al.: Involved-nodal radiation therapy as a component of combination therapy for limited-stage Hodgkin's lymphoma: a question of field size. J Clin Oncol 26 (32): 5170-4, 2008.30Hudson M, Constine LS: Hodgkin's disease. In: Halperin EC, Constine LS, Tarbell NJ, et al.: Pediatric Radiation Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004, pp 223-60.31Andolino DL, Hoene T, Xiao L, et al.: Dosimetric comparison of involved-field three-dimensional conformal photon radiotherapy and breast-sparing proton therapy for the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma in female pediatric patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 81 (4): e667-71, 2011.32Rühl U, Albrecht M, Dieckmann K, et al.: Response-adapted radiotherapy in the treatment of pediatric Hodgkin's disease: an interim report at 5 years of the German GPOH-HD 95 trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 51 (5): 1209-18, 2001.33Paulino AC, Margolin J, Dreyer Z, et al.: Impact of PET-CT on involved field radiotherapy design for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 58 (6): 860-4, 2012.34Schwartz CL, Constine LS, Villaluna D, et al.: A risk-adapted, response-based approach using ABVE-PC for children and adolescents with intermediate- and high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma: the results of P9425. Blood 114 (10): 2051-9, 2009.35Friedman DI, Wolden S, Constine L, et al.: AHOD0031: A phase III study of dose intensive therapy for intermediate risk Hodgkin lymphoma: a report from the Children’s Oncology Group. [Abstract] Blood 116 (22): A-766, 2010.36Yeh JM, Diller L: Pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma: trade-offs between short- and long-term mortality risks. Blood 120 (11): 2195-202, 2012.37Biswas T, Culakova E, Friedberg JW, et al.: Involved field radiation therapy following high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant benefits local control and survival in refractory or recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma. Radiother Oncol 103 (3): 367-72, 2012.38Loeffler M, Brosteanu O, Hasenclever D, et al.: Meta-analysis of chemotherapy versus combined modality treatment trials in Hodgkin's disease. International Database on Hodgkin's Disease Overview Study Group. J Clin Oncol 16 (3): 818-29, 1998.39Herbst C, Rehan FA, Skoetz N, et al.: Chemotherapy alone versus chemotherapy plus radiotherapy for early stage Hodgkin lymphoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD007110, 2011.40Mauz-Körholz C, Hasenclever D, Dörffel W, et al.: Procarbazine-free OEPA-COPDAC chemotherapy in boys and standard OPPA-COPP in girls have comparable effectiveness in pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma: the GPOH-HD-2002 study. J Clin Oncol 28 (23): 3680-6, 2010.41Donaldson SS, Link MP, Weinstein HJ, et al.: Final results of a prospective clinical trial with VAMP and low-dose involved-field radiation for children with low-risk Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 25 (3): 332-7, 2007.42Tebbi CK, Mendenhall N, London WB, et al.: Treatment of stage I, IIA, IIIA1 pediatric Hodgkin disease with doxorubicin, bleomycin, vincristine and etoposide (DBVE) and radiation: a Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 46 (2): 198-202, 2006.43Tebbi CK, Mendenhall NP, London WB, et al.: Response-dependent and reduced treatment in lower risk Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents, results of P9426: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 59 (7): 1259-65, 2012.44Kelly KM, Sposto R, Hutchinson R, et al.: BEACOPP chemotherapy is a highly effective regimen in children and adolescents with high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma: a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Blood 117 (9): 2596-603, 2011.45Shankar A, Hall GW, Gorde-Grosjean S, et al.: Treatment outcome after low intensity chemotherapy [CVP] in children and adolescents with early stage nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma - an Anglo-French collaborative report. Eur J Cancer 48 (11): 1700-6, 2012.46Tebbi CK, London WB, Friedman D, et al.: Dexrazoxane-associated risk for acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome and other secondary malignancies in pediatric Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 25 (5): 493-500, 2007.47Friedmann AM, Hudson MM, Weinstein HJ, et al.: Treatment of unfavorable childhood Hodgkin's disease with VEPA and low-dose, involved-field radiation. J Clin Oncol 20 (14): 3088-94, 2002.48Hudson MM, Krasin M, Link MP, et al.: Risk-adapted, combined-modality therapy with VAMP/COP and response-based, involved-field radiation for unfavorable pediatric Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 22 (22): 4541-50, 2004.49Metzger ML, Weinstein HJ, Hudson MM, et al.: Association between radiotherapy vs no radiotherapy based on early response to VAMP chemotherapy and survival among children with favorable-risk Hodgkin lymphoma. JAMA 307 (24): 2609-16, 2012.50Schellong G: The balance between cure and late effects in childhood Hodgkin's lymphoma: the experience of the German-Austrian Study-Group since 1978. German-Austrian Pediatric Hodgkin's Disease Study Group. Ann Oncol 7 (Suppl 4): 67-72, 1996.51Schellong G, Pötter R, Brämswig J, et al.: High cure rates and reduced long-term toxicity in pediatric Hodgkin's disease: the German-Austrian multicenter trial DAL-HD-90. The German-Austrian Pediatric Hodgkin's Disease Study Group. J Clin Oncol 17 (12): 3736-44, 1999.52Chen RC, Chin MS, Ng AK, et al.: Early-stage, lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma: patient outcomes from a large, single-institution series with long follow-up. J Clin Oncol 28 (1): 136-41, 2010.53Jackson C, Sirohi B, Cunningham D, et al.: Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma--clinical features and treatment outcomes from a 30-year experience. Ann Oncol 21 (10): 2061-8, 2010.54Viviani S, Zinzani PL, Rambaldi A, et al.: ABVD versus BEACOPP for Hodgkin's lymphoma when high-dose salvage is planned. N Engl J Med 365 (3): 203-12, 2011.55Chisesi T, Bellei M, Luminari S, et al.: Long-term follow-up analysis of HD9601 trial comparing ABVD versus Stanford V versus MOPP/EBV/CAD in patients with newly diagnosed advanced-stage Hodgkin's lymphoma: a study from the Intergruppo Italiano Linfomi. J Clin Oncol 29 (32): 4227-33, 2011.56van der Pal HJ, van Dalen EC, van Delden E, et al.: High risk of symptomatic cardiac events in childhood cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol 30 (13): 1429-37, 2012.57Blanco JG, Sun CL, Landier W, et al.: Anthracycline-related cardiomyopathy after childhood cancer: role of polymorphisms in carbonyl reductase genes--a report from the Children's Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 30 (13): 1415-21, 2012.58Mulrooney DA, Yeazel MW, Kawashima T, et al.: Cardiac outcomes in a cohort of adult survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer: retrospective analysis of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort. BMJ 339: b4606, 2009.

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Treatment of Primary Refractory/Recurrent Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children and Adolescents

The excellent response to frontline therapy among children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma limits opportunities to evaluate second-line (salvage) therapy. Because of the small number of patients that fail primary therapy, no uniform second-line treatment strategy exists for this patient population. Adverse prognostic factors after relapse include the following:[1][Level of evidence: 3iiA]

  • The presence of B symptoms (fever, weight loss, and night sweats) and extranodal disease.[2]
  • Early relapse (occurring between 3–12 months from the end of therapy).[3][4]
  • Inadequate response to initial second-line therapy.[4]

Children with localized favorable (relapse ≥12 months after completing therapy) disease recurrences whose original therapy involved reduced cycles of risk-adapted therapy or with chemotherapy alone and/or low-dose involved-field radiation therapy (LD-IRFT) consolidation have a high likelihood of achieving long-term survival following treatment with more intensive conventional chemotherapy.[5][6]

Key concepts in regard to treatment of refractory/recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents are as follows:

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the recommended second-line therapy, with the choice of specific agents, dose-intensity, and number of cycles determined by the initial therapy, disease characteristics at progression/relapse, and response to second-line therapy.Agents used alone or in combination regimens in the treatment of refractory/recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:ICE (ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide).[7] Ifosfamide and vinorelbine.[8] Vinorelbine and gemcitabine.[9]IEP/ABVD/COPP (ifosfamide, etoposide, prednisone/doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine/cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone).[3]APE (cytosine arabinoside, cisplatin, and etoposide).[10]MIED (high-dose methotrexate, ifosfamide, etoposide, and dexamethasone).[11]Rituximab (for patients with CD20-positive disease) alone or in combination with second-line chemotherapy.[12]Brentuximab vedotin.Brentuximab vedotin has been evaluated in adults with Hodgkin lymphoma. A phase I study in adults with CD30-positive lymphomas identified a recommended phase II dose of 1.8 mg/kg on an every 3-week schedule and showed an objective response rate of 50% (6 of 12 patients) at the recommended phase II dose.[13][Level of evidence: 2Div] A phase II trial in adults with Hodgkin lymphoma (N = 102) who relapsed after autologous stem cell transplantation showed a complete remission rate of 32% and a partial remission rate of 40%.[14][15] The number of pediatric patients treated with brentuximab vedotin is not sufficient to determine whether they respond differently than adult patients. There are ongoing trials to determine the toxicity and efficacy of combining brentuximab vedotin with chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT): Myeloablative chemotherapy with autologous HCT is the recommended approach for patients who develop refractory disease during therapy or relapsed disease within 1 year after completing therapy.[16] [17] [7] [8] [18][19][20]; [21][Level of evidence: 3iiA]; [22][Level of evidence:3iiiA] (Refer to the Autologous HCT section of the PDQ summary on Childhood Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for more information about transplantation.) In addition, this approach is also recommended for those who recur with extensive disease after the first year of completing therapy or for those who recur after initial therapy that included intensive (alkylating agents and anthracyclines) multiagent chemotherapy and radiation therapy.Autologous HCT has been preferred for patients with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma because of the historically high transplant-related mortality (TRM) associated with allogeneic transplantation.[23] Following autologous HCT, the projected survival rate is 45% to 70% and progression-free survival (PFS) is 30% to 89%.[21][24][25]; [26][Level of evidence: 3iiiA]The most commonly utilized preparative regimen for peripheral blood stem cell transplant is the BEAM regimen (carmustine [BCNU], etoposide, cytarabine, melphalan) or CBV regimen (cyclophosphamide, carmustine, etoposide).[20][24][25][26]; [21][Level of evidence: 3iiA]; [22][Level of evidence:3iiiA] Carmustine may produce significant pulmonary toxicity.[26]Other noncarmustine-containing preparative regimens have been utilized, including high-dose busulfan, etoposide, and cyclophosphamide.[27]Adverse prognostic features for outcome after autologous HCT include extranodal disease at relapse, mediastinal mass at time of transplant, advanced stage at relapse, primary refractory disease, and a positive positron emission tomography scan prior to autologous HCT.[1][24][25][26][28]
  • Chemotherapy followed by allogeneic HCT: For patients who fail following autologous HCT or for patients with chemoresistant disease, allogeneic HCT has been used with encouraging results.[23][29][30][31] Investigations of reduced-intensity allogeneic transplantation that typically use fludarabine or low-dose total body irradiation to provide a nontoxic immunosuppression have demonstrated acceptable rates of TRM.[32][33][34][35] (Refer to the Allogeneic HCT section of the PDQ summary on Childhood Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for more information about transplantation.)
  • LD-IFRT: LD-IFRT to sites of recurrent disease may enhance local control if these sites have not been previously irradiated. LD-IFRT is generally administered after high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell rescue.[36]

Patients treated with HCT may experience relapse as late as 5 years after the procedure; they should be monitored for relapse and late treatment sequelae.

Response Rates for Primary Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma

Salvage rates for patients with primary refractory Hodgkin lymphoma are poor even with autologous HCT and radiation. However, intensification of therapy followed by HCT consolidation has been reported to achieve long-term survival in some studies.

  • In one large series of patients, 5-year overall survival (OS) after primary refractory Hodgkin lymphoma was attained with aggressive second-line therapy (high-dose chemoradiotherapy) and autologous HCT in 49%.[37]
  • In a Gesellschaft für Pädiatrische Onkologie und Hämatologie (GPOH) study, patients with primary refractory Hodgkin lymphoma (progressive disease on therapy or relapse within 3 months from the end of therapy) had 10-year event-free survival (EFS) and OS rates of 41% and 51%, respectively.[3]
  • A study of 53 adolescent patients of the same types as those who participated in the GPOH study had similar results for EFS and OS.[38] Chemosensitivity to standard-dose second-line chemotherapy predicted a better survival (66% OS), and those who remained refractory did poorly (17% OS).[39]
  • Another group has reported the PFS post-HCT for chemosensitive patients as 80% compared with 0% for those with chemoresistant disease.[21]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

The following is an example of a national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted or is under analysis. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  1. AHOD1221 (NCT01780662) (Brentuximab Vedotin and Gemcitabine Hydrochloride in Treating Younger Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma): Both brentuximab vedotin and gemcitabine are active as single agents against Hodgkin lymphoma.[13][15][19][40][41] The objectives of this phase I/II trial include the following:Determine the maximum tolerated doses of brentuximab vedotin and gemcitabine hydrochloride when given together to pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma.Define the incidence of adverse events at the maximum tolerated doses of the two agents.Determine the objective response rate for the brentuximab vedotin and gemcitabine regimen.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent/refractory childhood Hodgkin lymphoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

1Metzger ML, Hudson MM, Krasin MJ, et al.: Initial response to salvage therapy determines prognosis in relapsed pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma patients. Cancer 116 (18): 4376-84, 2010.2Moskowitz CH, Nimer SD, Zelenetz AD, et al.: A 2-step comprehensive high-dose chemoradiotherapy second-line program for relapsed and refractory Hodgkin disease: analysis by intent to treat and development of a prognostic model. Blood 97 (3): 616-23, 2001.3Schellong G, Dörffel W, Claviez A, et al.: Salvage therapy of progressive and recurrent Hodgkin's disease: results from a multicenter study of the pediatric DAL/GPOH-HD study group. J Clin Oncol 23 (25): 6181-9, 2005.4Gorde-Grosjean S, Oberlin O, Leblanc T, et al.: Outcome of children and adolescents with recurrent/refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma, a study from the Société Française de Lutte contre le Cancer des Enfants et des Adolescents (SFCE). Br J Haematol 158 (5): 649-56, 2012.5Nachman JB, Sposto R, Herzog P, et al.: Randomized comparison of low-dose involved-field radiotherapy and no radiotherapy for children with Hodgkin's disease who achieve a complete response to chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 20 (18): 3765-71, 2002.6Rühl U, Albrecht M, Dieckmann K, et al.: Response-adapted radiotherapy in the treatment of pediatric Hodgkin's disease: an interim report at 5 years of the German GPOH-HD 95 trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 51 (5): 1209-18, 2001.7Cairo MS, Shen V, Krailo MD, et al.: Prospective randomized trial between two doses of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor after ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide in children with recurrent or refractory solid tumors: a children's cancer group report. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 23 (1): 30-8, 2001.8Bonfante V, Viviani S, Santoro A, et al.: Ifosfamide and vinorelbine: an active regimen for patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's disease. Br J Haematol 103 (2): 533-5, 1998.9Cole PD, Schwartz CL, Drachtman RA, et al.: Phase II study of weekly gemcitabine and vinorelbine for children with recurrent or refractory Hodgkin's disease: a children's oncology group report. J Clin Oncol 27 (9): 1456-61, 2009.10Wimmer RS, Chauvenet AR, London WB, et al.: APE chemotherapy for children with relapsed Hodgkin disease: a Pediatric Oncology Group trial. Pediatr Blood Cancer 46 (3): 320-4, 2006.11Sandlund JT, Pui CH, Mahmoud H, et al.: Efficacy of high-dose methotrexate, ifosfamide, etoposide and dexamethasone salvage therapy for recurrent or refractory childhood malignant lymphoma. Ann Oncol 22 (2): 468-71, 2011.12Schulz H, Rehwald U, Morschhauser F, et al.: Rituximab in relapsed lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma: long-term results of a phase 2 trial by the German Hodgkin Lymphoma Study Group (GHSG). Blood 111 (1): 109-11, 2008.13Younes A, Bartlett NL, Leonard JP, et al.: Brentuximab vedotin (SGN-35) for relapsed CD30-positive lymphomas. N Engl J Med 363 (19): 1812-21, 2010.14Seattle Genetics, Inc.: ADCETRIS (Brentuximab Vedotin): Prescribing Information. Bothell, Wa: Seattle Genetics, 2012. Available online. Last accessed May 03, 2013.15Younes A, Gopal AK, Smith SE, et al.: Results of a pivotal phase II study of brentuximab vedotin for patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 30 (18): 2183-9, 2012.16Aparicio J, Segura A, Garcerá S, et al.: ESHAP is an active regimen for relapsing Hodgkin's disease. Ann Oncol 10 (5): 593-5, 1999.17Kobrinsky NL, Sposto R, Shah NR, et al.: Outcomes of treatment of children and adolescents with recurrent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease with dexamethasone, etoposide, cisplatin, cytarabine, and l-asparaginase, maintenance chemotherapy, and transplantation: Children's Cancer Group Study CCG-5912. J Clin Oncol 19 (9): 2390-6, 2001.18Zinzani PL, Bendandi M, Stefoni V, et al.: Value of gemcitabine treatment in heavily pretreated Hodgkin's disease patients. Haematologica 85 (9): 926-9, 2000.19Santoro A, Bredenfeld H, Devizzi L, et al.: Gemcitabine in the treatment of refractory Hodgkin's disease: results of a multicenter phase II study. J Clin Oncol 18 (13): 2615-9, 2000.20Baker KS, Gordon BG, Gross TG, et al.: Autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation for relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's disease in children and adolescents. J Clin Oncol 17 (3): 825-31, 1999.21Shafer JA, Heslop HE, Brenner MK, et al.: Outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplant as salvage therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma in adolescents and young adults at a single institution. Leuk Lymphoma 51 (4): 664-70, 2010.22Claviez A, Sureda A, Schmitz N: Haematopoietic SCT for children and adolescents with relapsed and refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma. Bone Marrow Transplant 42 (Suppl 2): S16-24, 2008.23Peniket AJ, Ruiz de Elvira MC, Taghipour G, et al.: An EBMT registry matched study of allogeneic stem cell transplants for lymphoma: allogeneic transplantation is associated with a lower relapse rate but a higher procedure-related mortality rate than autologous transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplant 31 (8): 667-78, 2003.24Lieskovsky YE, Donaldson SS, Torres MA, et al.: High-dose therapy and autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation for recurrent or refractory pediatric Hodgkin's disease: results and prognostic indices. J Clin Oncol 22 (22): 4532-40, 2004.25Akhtar S, Abdelsalam M, El Weshi A, et al.: High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation for Hodgkin's lymphoma in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia: King Faisal specialist hospital and research center experience. Bone Marrow Transplant 42 (Suppl 1): S37-S40, 2008.26Harris RE, Termuhlen AM, Smith LM, et al.: Autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation in children with refractory or relapsed lymphoma: results of Children's Oncology Group study A5962. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 17 (2): 249-58, 2011.27Wadehra N, Farag S, Bolwell B, et al.: Long-term outcome of Hodgkin disease patients following high-dose busulfan, etoposide, cyclophosphamide, and autologous stem cell transplantation. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 12 (12): 1343-9, 2006.28Jabbour E, Hosing C, Ayers G, et al.: Pretransplant positive positron emission tomography/gallium scans predict poor outcome in patients with recurrent/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer 109 (12): 2481-9, 2007.29Cooney JP, Stiff PJ, Toor AA, et al.: BEAM allogeneic transplantation for patients with Hodgkin's disease who relapse after autologous transplantation is safe and effective. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 9 (3): 177-82, 2003.30Claviez A, Klingebiel T, Beyer J, et al.: Allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation following fludarabine-based conditioning in six children with advanced Hodgkin's disease. Ann Hematol 83 (4): 237-41, 2004.31Sureda A, Schmitz N: Role of allogeneic stem cell transplantation in relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's disease. Ann Oncol 13 (Suppl 1): 128-32, 2002.32Carella AM, Cavaliere M, Lerma E, et al.: Autografting followed by nonmyeloablative immunosuppressive chemotherapy and allogeneic peripheral-blood hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation as treatment of resistant Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 18 (23): 3918-24, 2000.33Robinson SP, Goldstone AH, Mackinnon S, et al.: Chemoresistant or aggressive lymphoma predicts for a poor outcome following reduced-intensity allogeneic progenitor cell transplantation: an analysis from the Lymphoma Working Party of the European Group for Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation. Blood 100 (13): 4310-6, 2002.34Devetten MP, Hari PN, Carreras J, et al.: Unrelated donor reduced-intensity allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for relapsed and refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 15 (1): 109-17, 2009.35Robinson SP, Sureda A, Canals C, et al.: Reduced intensity conditioning allogeneic stem cell transplantation for Hodgkin's lymphoma: identification of prognostic factors predicting outcome. Haematologica 94 (2): 230-8, 2009.36Wadhwa P, Shina DC, Schenkein D, et al.: Should involved-field radiation therapy be used as an adjunct to lymphoma autotransplantation? Bone Marrow Transplant 29 (3): 183-9, 2002.37Morabito F, Stelitano C, Luminari S, et al.: The role of high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with primary refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma: a report from the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio dei Linfomi (GISL). Bone Marrow Transplant 37 (3): 283-8, 2006.38Akhtar S, El Weshi A, Rahal M, et al.: High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant in adolescent patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma. Bone Marrow Transplant 45 (3): 476-82, 2010.39Moskowitz CH, Kewalramani T, Nimer SD, et al.: Effectiveness of high dose chemoradiotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation for patients with biopsy-proven primary refractory Hodgkin's disease. Br J Haematol 124 (5): 645-52, 2004.40Fosså A, Santoro A, Hiddemann W, et al.: Gemcitabine as a single agent in the treatment of relapsed or refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 17 (12): 3786-92, 1999.41Gopal AK, Ramchandren R, O'Connor OA, et al.: Safety and efficacy of brentuximab vedotin for Hodgkin lymphoma recurring after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Blood 120 (3): 560-8, 2012.

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Late Effects from Childhood/Adolescent Hodgkin Lymphoma Therapy

Children and adolescent survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma are at risk for numerous late complications of treatment related to radiation, specific chemotherapeutic exposures, and surgical staging. Adverse treatment effects may impact oral/dental health; musculoskeletal growth and development; endocrine, reproductive, cardiovascular and pulmonary function; and risk of secondary carcinogenesis. In the past 30 to 40 years, pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma therapy has changed dramatically to proactively limit exposure to radiation and chemotherapeutic agents, such as anthracyclines, alkylating agents, and bleomycin. When counseling individual patients about the risk for specific treatment complications, the era of treatment should be considered.

The following table summarizes late health effects observed in Hodgkin lymphoma survivors followed by a limited discussion of the common late effects. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for a full discussion of the late effects of cancer treatment in children and adolescents.)

Table 9. Treatment Complications Observed in Hodgkin Lymphoma SurvivorsHealth Effects Predisposing TherapyClinical ManifestationsOral/dentalAny chemotherapy in a patient who has not developed permanent dentitionDental maldevelopment (tooth/root agenesis, microdontia, root thinning and shortening, enamel dysplasia)Radiation impacting oral cavity and salivary glands Salivary gland dysfunction XerostomiaAccelerated dental decayPeriodontal disease ThyroidRadiation impacting thyroid glandHypothyroidism HyperthyroidismThyroid nodules CardiovascularRadiation impacting cardiovascular structures Subclinical left ventricular dysfunction CardiomyopathyPericarditisHeart valve dysfunctionConduction disorder Coronary, carotid, subclavian vascular disease Myocardial infarctionStroke Anthracycline chemotherapy Subclinical left ventricular dysfunction CardiomyopathyCongestive heart failurePulmonaryRadiation impacting the lungsSubclinical pulmonary dysfunction BleomycinPulmonary fibrosisMusculoskeletalRadiation of musculoskeletal tissues in any patient who is not skeletally matureGrowth impairmentGlucocorticosteroids Bone mineral density deficitMS ReproductiveAlkylating agent chemotherapy Hypogonadism Gonadal irradiationInfertility Immune SplenectomyOverwhelming post-splenectomy sepsisSubsequent neoplasm or diseaseAlkylating agent chemotherapyMyelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemiaEpipodophyllotoxinsMyelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemiaRadiationSolid benign and malignant neoplasms

Male Gonadal Toxicity

  • Gonadal radiation and alkylating agent chemotherapy may produce testicular Leydig cell or germ cell dysfunction with risk related to cumulative dose of both modalities.
  • Hypoandrogenism associated with Leydig cell dysfunction may manifest as lack of sexual development; small, atrophic testicles; and sexual dysfunction. Hypoandrogenism also increases the risk of osteoporosis and metabolic disorders associated with chronic disease.[1][2]
  • Infertility caused by azoospermia is the most common manifestation of gonadal toxicity. Some pubertal male patients will have impaired spermatogenesis before they begin therapy.[3][4]
  • The prepubertal testicle is likely equally or slightly less sensitive to chemotherapy compared with the pubertal testicle. Pubertal status is not protective of chemotherapy-associated gonadal toxicity.[5][6]
  • Testicular Leydig cells are relatively resistant to treatment toxicity compared with testicular germ cells. Survivors who are azoospermic after gonadal toxic therapy may maintain adequate testosterone production.[5][6][7]
  • Chemotherapy regimens that include no alkylating agents such as ABVD (doxorubicin [Adriamycin], bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine), ABVE (doxorubicin [Adriamycin], bleomycin, vincristine, etoposide), OEPA (vincristine [Oncovin], etoposide, prednisone, doxorubicin [Adriamycin]), or VAMP (vincristine, doxorubicin [Adriamycin], methotrexate, prednisone) are not associated with male infertility.
  • Chemotherapy regimens including more than one alkylating agent, usually procarbazine in conjunction with cyclophosphamide (i.e., COPP [cyclophosphamide, vincristine (Oncovin), prednisone, procarbazine]), chlorambucil, or nitrogen mustard (MOPP) confer a high risk of permanent azoospermia if treatment exceeds three cycles.[8][9]
  • Investigations evaluating germ cell function in relation to single alkylating agent exposure suggest that the incidence of permanent azoospermia will be low if the cyclophosphamide dose is less than 7.5 g/m2.[6][10]

Female Gonadal Toxicity

  • Because ovarian hormone production is linked to the maturation of primordial follicles, depletion of follicles by alkylating agent chemotherapy can potentially affect both fertility and ovarian hormone production.
  • Because of their greater complement of primordial follicles, the ovaries of young and adolescent girls are less sensitive to the effects of alkylating agents than are the ovaries of older women. In general, girls maintain ovarian function at higher cumulative alkylating agent doses compared with the germ cell function maintained in boys.
  • Most females treated with contemporary risk-adapted therapy will attain menses (if prepubertal at treatment) or regain normal menses (if pubertal at treatment) unless pelvic radiation therapy is given without oophoropexy.
  • Ovarian transposition to a lateral or medial region from the planned radiation volume may preserve ovarian function in young and adolescent girls who require pelvic radiation therapy for lymphoma.[11]
  • The risk of acute ovarian failure and premature menopause is substantial if treatment includes combined-modality therapy with alkylating agent chemotherapy and abdominal or pelvic radiation or dose-intensive alkylating agents for myeloablative conditioning before hematopoietic cell transplantation.[12][13]
  • In the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), investigators observed that Hodgkin lymphoma survivors were among the highest risk groups for acute ovarian failure and early menopause. In this cohort, the cumulative incidence of nonsurgical premature menopause among survivors treated with alkylating agents and abdominal or pelvic radiation approached 30%.[12][13]
  • In a large study of 1,700 women treated between the ages of 15 and 40 years, there was a high incidence (60%) of premature ovarian failure after alkylating chemotherapy with no excess risk of premature ovarian failure following nonalkylating chemotherapy. Among women who developed premature ovarian failure, 22% had previously had one or more children.[14]

Thyroid Abnormalities

  • Abnormalities of the thyroid gland, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid neoplasms have been reported to occur at a higher rate among survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma compared with the general population.
  • Risk factors for hypothyroidism include increasing dose of radiation, female gender, and older age at diagnosis.[15][16][17] CCSS investigators reported a 20-year actuarial risk of 30% of developing hypothyroidism in Hodgkin survivors treated with 3,500 cGy to 4,499 cGy and 50% for subjects whose thyroid received 4,500 cGy or more.
  • Hypothyroidism develops most often in the first 5 years after treatment, but new cases have been reported to emerge more than 20 years after the diagnosis.[16]
  • Hyperthyroidism has been observed after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma with a clinical picture similar to that of Graves disease.[18] Higher radiation dose has been associated with greater risk of hyperthyroidism.[16]
  • Thyroid neoplasms, both benign and malignant, have been reported with increased frequency following neck irradiation. The incidence of nodules varies substantially across studies (2%–65%) depending on the length of follow-up and detection methods used.[15][16][17] Risk factors for the development of thyroid nodules in Hodgkin lymphoma survivors reported by CCSS include time since diagnosis greater than 10 years (relative risk [RR], 4.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.0–7.8), female gender (RR, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.5– 6.7), and radiation dose to thyroid greater than 25 Gy (RR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.4–6.9).[17]

Cardiac Toxicity

Hodgkin lymphoma survivors exposed to doxorubicin or thoracic radiation therapy are at risk for long-term cardiac toxicity. The effects of thoracic radiation therapy are difficult to separate from those of anthracyclines because few children undergo thoracic radiation therapy without the use of anthracyclines. The pathogenesis of injury differs, however, with radiation primarily affecting the fine vasculature of the heart, and anthracyclines directly damaging myocytes.[19][20]

Radiation-associated cardiovascular toxicity

  • Late effects of radiation to the heart include the following:[21][22][23][24]Delayed pericarditis.Pancarditis including pericardial and myocardial fibrosis, with or without endocardial fibroelastosis.Cardiomyopathy.Coronary artery disease.[24]Functional valve injury.Conduction defects. The risks to the heart are related to the amount of radiation delivered to different depths of the heart, volume and specific areas of the heart irradiated, total and fractional irradiation dose, age at exposure, and latency period.
  • Modern radiation techniques allow a reduction in the volume of cardiac tissue incidentally exposed to higher radiation doses. It is anticipated that this will reduce the risk of adverse cardiac events.

Selected studies evaluating cardiovascular toxicity associated with radiation

(Refer to the Cardiovascular Disease in Select Cancer Subgroups: Hodgkin lymphoma section in the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for information on studies evaluating cardiovascular toxicity associated with radiation.)

Anthracycline-related cardiac toxicity

  • Late complications related to anthracycline injury include subclinical left ventricular dysfunction, cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure.
  • Increased risk of doxorubicin-related cardiomyopathy is associated with female gender, cumulative doses higher than 200 mg/m2 to 300 mg/m2, younger age at time of exposure, and increased time from exposure.[25]
  • Prevention or amelioration of anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy is of utmost importance because the continued usage of anthracyclines is required in cancer therapy in more than one-half of children with newly diagnosed cancer.[26][27]
  • Dexrazoxane (a bisdioxopiperazine compound that readily enters cells and is subsequently hydrolyzed to form a chelating agent) has been shown to prevent heart damage in adults and children treated with anthracyclines.[28] Studies suggest that dexrazoxane is safe and does not interfere with chemotherapeutic efficacy.
  • Studies of cancer survivors treated with anthracyclines have not demonstrated the benefit of enalapril in preventing progressive cardiac toxicity.[29][30]

Subsequent Neoplasms

  • A number of series evaluating the incidence of subsequent neoplasms in survivors of childhood and adolescent Hodgkin lymphoma have been published.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39] Many of the patients included in these series received high-dose radiation therapy and high-dose alkylating agent chemotherapy regimens, which are no longer used.
  • Subsequent neoplasms comprise two distinct groups: chemotherapy-related myelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and solid neoplasms that are predominately radiation related.[40][41]
  • Secondary hematological malignancy (most commonly AML and myelodysplasia) is related to the use of alkylating agents, anthracycline, and etoposide and exhibit a brief latency period (<3 years from the primary cancer).[42] This excess risk is largely related to cases of myelodysplasia and secondary AML. A single-study experience suggests that there could be an increase in malignancies when multiple topoisomerase inhibitors are administered in close proximity.[43] Clinical trials using dexrazoxane in childhood leukemia have not observed an excess risk of subsequent neoplasms.[43][44][45]
  • Chemotherapy-related myelodysplasia/AML are less prevalent following contemporary therapy because of the restriction of cumulative alkylating agent doses.
  • Solid neoplasms most often involve the skin, breast, thyroid, gastrointestinal tract, and lung with risk increasing with radiation dose.[38]
  • The risk of a secondary solid tumor escalates with the passage of time after diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma, with a latency of 20 years or more.
  • Breast cancer is the most common therapy-related solid subsequent neoplasm after Hodgkin lymphoma. The absolute excess risk ranges from 18.6 to 79 per 10,000 person-years, and the cumulative incidence ranges from 12% to 26%, 25 to 30 years after radiation exposure. [37][46][47][48]
  • High risk of breast cancer has been found to increase as early as 8 years from radiation exposure, and it continues to increase with time from exposure. The median age at diagnosis of breast cancer is 36 years, at least 25 years earlier than what is observed in the general population.[37]
  • The cumulative incidence of breast cancer by age 40 to 45 years ranges from 13% to 20%, compared with a 1% risk for women in the general population.[37][46][48][49] This risk is similar to what is observed for women with a BRCA gene mutation, where, by age 40 years, the cumulative incidence of breast cancer ranges from 10% to 19%.[50]
  • The risk for breast cancer in female survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma is directly related to the dose of radiation therapy received over a range from 4 to 40 Gy. There is a 3.2-fold increase in the risk of developing breast cancer for females who received 4 Gy and an eightfold increase in risk for females who received 40 Gy.[51] Female patients treated with both radiation therapy and alkylating agent chemotherapy have a lower RR for developing breast cancer than women receiving radiation therapy alone.[38][52] CCSS investigators also demonstrated that breast cancer risk associated with breast irradiation was sharply reduced among women who received 5 Gy or more to the ovaries.[53] The protective effect of alkylating chemotherapy and ovarian radiation is believed to be mediated through induction of premature menopause, suggesting that hormone stimulation contributes to the development of radiation-induced breast cancer.[54]
  • Female survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma who develop breast cancer have a sevenfold increase in rate of death, even when adjusted for stage, compared with patients who develop breast cancer de novo. These survivors also have a twofold increase in the rate of death from cardiac disease.[55]
  • A study of women survivors who received chest radiation for Hodgkin lymphoma showed that one of the most important factors in obtaining mammograms per guidelines was recommendation from their treating physician. Standard guidelines for routine breast screening are available. The COG guidelines recommend annual screening mammograms for women beginning 8 years after treatment or at age 25 years, whichever is later.[56]
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Int J Androl 25 (5): 269-76, 2002.6Kenney LB, Laufer MR, Grant FD, et al.: High risk of infertility and long term gonadal damage in males treated with high dose cyclophosphamide for sarcoma during childhood. Cancer 91 (3): 613-21, 2001.7Rowley MJ, Leach DR, Warner GA, et al.: Effect of graded doses of ionizing radiation on the human testis. Radiat Res 59 (3): 665-78, 1974.8Hobbie WL, Ginsberg JP, Ogle SK, et al.: Fertility in males treated for Hodgkins disease with COPP/ABV hybrid. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (2): 193-6, 2005.9da Cunha MF, Meistrich ML, Fuller LM, et al.: Recovery of spermatogenesis after treatment for Hodgkin's disease: limiting dose of MOPP chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 2 (6): 571-7, 1984.10Meistrich ML, Wilson G, Brown BW, et al.: Impact of cyclophosphamide on long-term reduction in sperm count in men treated with combination chemotherapy for Ewing and soft tissue sarcomas. Cancer 70 (11): 2703-12, 1992.11Thibaud E, Ramirez M, Brauner R, et al.: Preservation of ovarian function by ovarian transposition performed before pelvic irradiation during childhood. J Pediatr 121 (6): 880-4, 1992.12Chemaitilly W, Mertens AC, Mitby P, et al.: Acute ovarian failure in the childhood cancer survivor study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 91 (5): 1723-8, 2006.13Sklar CA, Mertens AC, Mitby P, et al.: Premature menopause in survivors of childhood cancer: a report from the childhood cancer survivor study. J Natl Cancer Inst 98 (13): 890-6, 2006.14van der Kaaij MA, Heutte N, Meijnders P, et al.: Premature ovarian failure and fertility in long-term survivors of Hodgkin's lymphoma: a European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Lymphoma Group and Groupe d'Etude des Lymphomes de l'Adulte Cohort Study. J Clin Oncol 30 (3): 291-9, 2012.15Constine LS, Donaldson SS, McDougall IR, et al.: Thyroid dysfunction after radiotherapy in children with Hodgkin's disease. Cancer 53 (4): 878-83, 1984.16Hancock SL, Cox RS, McDougall IR: Thyroid diseases after treatment of Hodgkin's disease. N Engl J Med 325 (9): 599-605, 1991.17Sklar C, Whitton J, Mertens A, et al.: Abnormalities of the thyroid in survivors of Hodgkin's disease: data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 85 (9): 3227-32, 2000.18Loeffler JS, Tarbell NJ, Garber JR, et al.: The development of Graves' disease following radiation therapy in Hodgkin's disease. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 14 (1): 175-8, 1988.19Fajardo LF, Eltringham JR, Steward JR: Combined cardiotoxicity of adriamycin and x-radiation. Lab Invest 34 (1): 86-96, 1976.20Adams MJ, Lipshultz SE: Pathophysiology of anthracycline- and radiation-associated cardiomyopathies: implications for screening and prevention. Pediatr Blood Cancer 44 (7): 600-6, 2005.21Hancock SL, Tucker MA, Hoppe RT: Factors affecting late mortality from heart disease after treatment of Hodgkin's disease. JAMA 270 (16): 1949-55, 1993.22King V, Constine LS, Clark D, et al.: Symptomatic coronary artery disease after mantle irradiation for Hodgkin's disease. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 36 (4): 881-9, 1996.23Adams MJ, Lipshultz SE, Schwartz C, et al.: Radiation-associated cardiovascular disease: manifestations and management. Semin Radiat Oncol 13 (3): 346-56, 2003.24Küpeli S, Hazirolan T, Varan A, et al.: Evaluation of coronary artery disease by computed tomography angiography in patients treated for childhood Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 28 (6): 1025-30, 2010.25Trachtenberg BH, Landy DC, Franco VI, et al.: Anthracycline-associated cardiotoxicity in survivors of childhood cancer. Pediatr Cardiol 32 (3): 342-53, 2011.26van Dalen EC, van der Pal HJ, Kok WE, et al.: Clinical heart failure in a cohort of children treated with anthracyclines: a long-term follow-up study. Eur J Cancer 42 (18): 3191-8, 2006.27Krischer JP, Epstein S, Cuthbertson DD, et al.: Clinical cardiotoxicity following anthracycline treatment for childhood cancer: the Pediatric Oncology Group experience. J Clin Oncol 15 (4): 1544-52, 1997.28van Dalen EC, Caron HN, Dickinson HO, et al.: Cardioprotective interventions for cancer patients receiving anthracyclines. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD003917, 2008.29Silber JH, Cnaan A, Clark BJ, et al.: Enalapril to prevent cardiac function decline in long-term survivors of pediatric cancer exposed to anthracyclines. J Clin Oncol 22 (5): 820-8, 2004.30Lipshultz SE, Lipsitz SR, Sallan SE, et al.: Long-term enalapril therapy for left ventricular dysfunction in doxorubicin-treated survivors of childhood cancer. J Clin Oncol 20 (23): 4517-22, 2002.31Beaty O 3rd, Hudson MM, Greenwald C, et al.: Subsequent malignancies in children and adolescents after treatment for Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 13 (3): 603-9, 1995.32van Leeuwen FE, Klokman WJ, Veer MB, et al.: Long-term risk of second malignancy in survivors of Hodgkin's disease treated during adolescence or young adulthood. J Clin Oncol 18 (3): 487-97, 2000.33Green DM, Hyland A, Barcos MP, et al.: Second malignant neoplasms after treatment for Hodgkin's disease in childhood or adolescence. J Clin Oncol 18 (7): 1492-9, 2000.34Metayer C, Lynch CF, Clarke EA, et al.: Second cancers among long-term survivors of Hodgkin's disease diagnosed in childhood and adolescence. J Clin Oncol 18 (12): 2435-43, 2000.35Wolden SL, Lamborn KR, Cleary SF, et al.: Second cancers following pediatric Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 16 (2): 536-44, 1998.36Sankila R, Garwicz S, Olsen JH, et al.: Risk of subsequent malignant neoplasms among 1,641 Hodgkin's disease patients diagnosed in childhood and adolescence: a population-based cohort study in the five Nordic countries. Association of the Nordic Cancer Registries and the Nordic Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. J Clin Oncol 14 (5): 1442-6, 1996.37Bhatia S, Yasui Y, Robison LL, et al.: High risk of subsequent neoplasms continues with extended follow-up of childhood Hodgkin's disease: report from the Late Effects Study Group. J Clin Oncol 21 (23): 4386-94, 2003.38Constine LS, Tarbell N, Hudson MM, et al.: Subsequent malignancies in children treated for Hodgkin's disease: associations with gender and radiation dose. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 72 (1): 24-33, 2008.39Swerdlow AJ, Higgins CD, Smith P, et al.: Second cancer risk after chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma: a collaborative British cohort study. J Clin Oncol 29 (31): 4096-104, 2011.40Reulen RC, Frobisher C, Winter DL, et al.: Long-term risks of subsequent primary neoplasms among survivors of childhood cancer. JAMA 305 (22): 2311-9, 2011.41Friedman DL, Whitton J, Leisenring W, et al.: Subsequent neoplasms in 5-year survivors of childhood cancer: the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. J Natl Cancer Inst 102 (14): 1083-95, 2010.42Le Deley MC, Leblanc T, Shamsaldin A, et al.: Risk of secondary leukemia after a solid tumor in childhood according to the dose of epipodophyllotoxins and anthracyclines: a case-control study by the Société Française d'Oncologie Pédiatrique. J Clin Oncol 21 (6): 1074-81, 2003.43Tebbi CK, London WB, Friedman D, et al.: Dexrazoxane-associated risk for acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome and other secondary malignancies in pediatric Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 25 (5): 493-500, 2007.44Lipshultz SE, Scully RE, Lipsitz SR, et al.: Assessment of dexrazoxane as a cardioprotectant in doxorubicin-treated children with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: long-term follow-up of a prospective, randomised, multicentre trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (10): 950-61, 2010.45Barry EV, Vrooman LM, Dahlberg SE, et al.: Absence of secondary malignant neoplasms in children with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with dexrazoxane. J Clin Oncol 26 (7): 1106-11, 2008.46Kenney LB, Yasui Y, Inskip PD, et al.: Breast cancer after childhood cancer: a report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. Ann Intern Med 141 (8): 590-7, 2004.47Ng AK, Bernardo MV, Weller E, et al.: Second malignancy after Hodgkin disease treated with radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy: long-term risks and risk factors. Blood 100 (6): 1989-96, 2002.48Taylor AJ, Winter DL, Stiller CA, et al.: Risk of breast cancer in female survivors of childhood Hodgkin's disease in Britain: a population-based study. Int J Cancer 120 (2): 384-91, 2007.49Henderson TO, Amsterdam A, Bhatia S, et al.: Systematic review: surveillance for breast cancer in women treated with chest radiation for childhood, adolescent, or young adult cancer. Ann Intern Med 152 (7): 444-55; W144-54, 2010.50Easton DF, Ford D, Bishop DT: Breast and ovarian cancer incidence in BRCA1-mutation carriers. Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium. Am J Hum Genet 56 (1): 265-71, 1995.51Alm El-Din MA, Hughes KS, Finkelstein DM, et al.: Breast cancer after treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma: risk factors that really matter. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 73 (1): 69-74, 2009.52Travis LB, Hill DA, Dores GM, et al.: Breast cancer following radiotherapy and chemotherapy among young women with Hodgkin disease. JAMA 290 (4): 465-75, 2003.53Inskip PD, Robison LL, Stovall M, et al.: Radiation dose and breast cancer risk in the childhood cancer survivor study. J Clin Oncol 27 (24): 3901-7, 2009.54De Bruin ML, Sparidans J, van't Veer MB, et al.: Breast cancer risk in female survivors of Hodgkin's lymphoma: lower risk after smaller radiation volumes. J Clin Oncol 27 (26): 4239-46, 2009.55Milano MT, Li H, Gail MH, et al.: Long-term survival among patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma who developed breast cancer: a population-based study. J Clin Oncol 28 (34): 5088-96, 2010.56Oeffinger KC, Ford JS, Moskowitz CS, et al.: Breast cancer surveillance practices among women previously treated with chest radiation for a childhood cancer. JAMA 301 (4): 404-14, 2009.

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Changes to This Summary (05/03/2013)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Cellular Classification and Biologic Correlates

Added text to state that a comprehensive review of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma addressing biology, evaluation, and treatment has been published (cited Shankar et al. as reference 16).

Added Appel et al. as reference 22.

Treatment for Newly Diagnosed Children and Adolescents with Hodgkin Lymphoma

Added text to state that in one trial of 52 nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma patients who were treated with chemotherapy alone, the 5-year event-free survival was 96% (cited Appel et al. as reference 23 and level of evidence 1iiDi). Also added Shankar et al. as reference 26.

Added text to state that a summary of treatment approaches for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma can be found in Table 8.

Added text to state that adjuvant radiation therapy may be associated with excess late effects or mortality (cited Yeh et al. as reference 36).

Added Tebbi et al. as reference 43.

Revised Table 4 to include the CVP regimen (cyclophosphamide, vinblastine, and prednisone) as a contemporary chemotherapy regimen for children and adolescents with Hodgkin lymphoma (cited Shankar et al. as reference 45).

Added text to state that children and adolescents with low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma treated with involved-field radiation therapy (IFRT) after complete response to two cycles of DBVE (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vincristine, and etoposide) had outcomes comparable to those treated with four cycles of DBVE and IFRT; this response-dependent approach permitted reduction in chemotherapy exposure in 45% of patients.

Added Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma as a new subsection.

Treatment of Primary Refractory/Recurrent Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children and Adolescents

Added Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation as a new subsection.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

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About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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The lead reviewers for Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment are:

  • Louis S. Constine, MD (James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at University of Rochester Medical Center)
  • Thomas G. Gross, MD, PhD (Nationwide Children's Hospital)
  • Melissa Maria Hudson, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
  • Kenneth L. McClain, MD, PhD (Texas Children's Cancer Center and Hematology Service at Texas Children's Hospital)
  • Arthur Kim Ritchey, MD (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC)
  • Malcolm A. Smith, MD, PhD (National Cancer Institute)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

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The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childhodgkins/HealthProfessional. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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This information was last updated on 2013-05-03