New treatment gives hope to patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma

Cancer is perhaps one of the most difficult diagnoses a person can get from a doctor. That's because your life expectancy depends heavily on the type of cancer you have and when the disease was caught. Then there is the frustration element of having to go through weeks and sometimes months of treatments.

For patients who have been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, the prognosis is further exacerbated by the fact that some treatments simply do not work. In a handful of cases, a patient may go through all treatment options, never once finding one that puts the disease into remission. But a new study published this month is introducing a new treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma that may offer that path to remission where others have failed.

Just like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease is a cancer that develops in the white blood cells called lymphocytes, which causes a patient to experience painless swelling in the lymph nodes.  Symptoms can become more severe though depending on where the cancer develops and where it spreads. 

Unlike other treatments which use radiation to kill cancer cells, this new treatment uses a drug that allows a person's own immune system to attack and kill the cells instead.  Even though Hodgkin's disease is treatable using other treatments, as much as 25 percent of patients experience a relapse of the disease.  But where other treatments have failed, researchers say, this new treatment has succeeded.

Though the existence of this new treatment may bring hope to our St. Louis readers who are battling this disease, widespread use of this treatment may be a few years away, pending approval.  This means that people with Hodgkin's lymphoma may still require disability benefits in the meantime, especially considering the fact that if a person does not respond to standard treatments, the disease can be fatal.

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

MedicineNet, "Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Differences and Similarities," Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Accessed Dec. 8, 2014

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