Radiation Therapy Significantly Increases Survival in Type of B-Cell Malignancy

Patients with Hodgkin lymphoma who are treated with radiation therapy are more likely to survive the disease than those not treated with radiation therapy, according to a recent study published in Anticancer Research (June 2017;37[6]:3035-3042).


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Hodgkin lymphoma has been deemed a curable disease in approximately 80% of patients worldwide over the past century due to advances in chemotherapy and radiation therapy planning and delivery. However, little is known about the use of large-field radiotherapy on overall survival rate in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Researchers led by Runhua Shi, MD, PhD, department of hematology, Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, Louisiana State University Health Science Center, examined the effect on survival outcomes across all stages of Hodgkin lymphoma in patients who were treated with radiation therapy compared with those who were not.

The researchers analyzed 39,700 patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma who were participating in a surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) data analysis at the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute between 1983 and 2011. At baseline, 39% of patients were Ann Arbor Stage II, and the rest were distributed evenly among stages I, III, and IV.

Multivariate analysis was used to determine the impact of patient demographics, such as sex, age, and race, and treatment characteristics, such as delivery or radiotherapy, on survival rates.

After adjusting for variables such as stage of disease, patients treated with radiation therapy had improved overall rates of survival compared with those who were not treated with radiation. At follow-up of more than 25 years after diagnosis, additional analysis showed that radiation therapy improved survival rates regardless of stage of disease.

“Radiation therapy improved survival in patients with all stages of [Hodgkin lymphoma],” the researchers concluded. “Demographic and disease factors associated with worse survival in this study may be related to particular patterns of care and warrant additional study.”—Christina Vogt