Current approaches to the treatment of advanced-stage Hodgkin's disease.
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Combination chemotherapy (CT) has been the mainstay of treatment of advanced-stage Hodgkin's disease since the late 1960s. Although treatment with MOPP (nitrogen mustard, vincristine sulfate [Oncovin], procarbazine and prednisone) has resulted in long-term disease-free survival rates exceeding 50%, newer approaches have been studied to improve on this success rate and to reduce the toxic effects associated with MOPP. Prognostic factors have now been defined that identify patients who may require more aggressive treatment; they include age greater than 40 years, presence of B symptoms and more advanced (especially extranodal) disease. A small number of patients with pathological stage III disease may still be successfully treated with extensive radiotherapy (RT) alone. Among patients with advanced-stage disease, significantly better therapeutic results are being obtained with newer treatment approaches than with MOPP, particularly in patients with factors that predict a poor outcome. These newer approaches include combination CT plus RT, alternating cycles of two non-cross-resistant CT regimens and hybrid regimens, which combine agents from two different CT regimens in one cycle. The prognosis of patients who suffer relapse after combination CT remains poor, even with newer drug regimens. The newer treatment approaches may well lead to better cure rates and fewer short-term and long-term toxic effects.
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