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Treatments for Hodgkin Lymphoma

The human immune system is extremely important and complex, and one of the parts that make up that complexity is the lymphatic system, which contains lymph nodes, lymph vessels and lymphatic organs. And within the lymphatic system, we have a special type of blood cell known as lymphocytes. 

Lymphocytes play a big part in defending the body against bacteria and viruses but they can also grow and develop uncontrollably, which results in a tumor. When this type of tumor develops, it is classified as a type of cancer known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

If someone is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there are a couple of different treatment options their doctor might use to treat the cancer.


Chemotherapy is the most commonly used cancer treatment option, and it involves the use of specialized drugs to combat the disease and destroy the cancerous cells. It can also be used to ease the signs and symptoms the patient is displaying or to prepare them for future treatments.

Chemotherapy can be given either intravenously (as an IV) directly into the patient’s bloodstream or in pill form. But before starting treatment, the doctor will have to do a couple of tests and check the patient’s heart and lung functions.

This treatment option is given in cycles and the medical team in charge of the patient’s case will constantly monitor their progress and how they are responding to the chemotherapy. This will help them determine the prognosis and determine how they should proceed with the treatment.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
The side effects of chemotherapy vary from person to person and depend greatly on the type of drug that was used, its dosage, how it was administered and the patient’s overall health.

That being said, these are the most common side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fertility issues
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood cell count
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat and mouth
  • Lung and heart damage
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Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy isn’t used as much as chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is typically used for patients who have stage 4 HL, while chemotherapy and radiotherapy are both used for all stages.

What’s special about targeted therapy is the fact that it uses drugs that can precisely target cancerous cells while not doing damage to normal healthy cells and tissues.
Targeted Therapy Side Effects
Just like with all other treatment options, the side effects of targeted therapy vary greatly from person to person and they can start either during treatment or after it. Some patients may experience only a few of them while others will experience many; it’s very individual.

However, since targeted therapy doesn’t affect healthy cells, the side effects of this treatment option are generally much milder than those that follow chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

These side effects include:

  • High fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Strong headaches
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent coughing
  • Skin problems such as itching, redness and rashes
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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, more commonly known as radiotherapy, is a cancer treatment option that destroys cancer cells with the use of high-energy rays or particles. It’s sometimes given on its own and other times it’s used after chemotherapy.

Its main goal is to destroy cancer cells, either all of them or those left over after the initial chemotherapy treatment. It can also relieve the pain and symptoms caused by advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

During radiotherapy, a machine sends radiation through the patient’s skin until it reaches the tumor and destroys it, along with some cells around it. Ideally, the doctors will try to give radiation to the smallest area possible, to try to avoid more severe side effects.
Radiotherapy Side Effects
Most patients who go through radiotherapy only experience some mild symptoms, especially if they haven’t received high doses of radiation. However, this doesn’t have to be the case and side effects can vary greatly and affect each patient differently.

They can also appear at any time either during or after radiotherapy, even years after the patient has finished their treatment.

Radiotherapy side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Low blood cell count
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Taste changes
  • Skin issues
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Bone Marrow Transplant

In some cases, a bone marrow transplant is done to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, typically in combination with high-dose chemotherapy. It’s usually performed when other treatment options aren’t effective or if the patient has recurrent Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant, is a procedure during which healthy stem cells are infused into the patient’s body. If a patient’s bone marrow is damaged, they don’t produce enough red and white blood cells and platelets.

The transplant is supposed to restore the body’s ability to produce these cells and allow it to fight off cancer more easily.
Bone Marrow Transplant Side Effects
Bone marrow transplants have slightly more serious side effects than other cancer treatment options, some of which can even become permanent or last for years; others are temporary and less serious.

These side effects include:

  • Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
  • Hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD)
  • Infection
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Digestive system issues
  • Bleeding
  • Lung problems
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Follow-up Care

After the patient enters remission, they will still have to receive follow-up care during which a team of medical professionals will follow their progress, make sure the cancer hasn’t come back and monitor their health. 

This follow-up care is an essential part of the treatment process and typically includes both physical examinations and medical tests. In the beginning, these checkups will take place every few weeks, and over time the frequency will be reduced to every few months, and eventually once or twice a year. 

Some Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients might also receive cancer rehabilitation, which includes things such as counseling, physical therapy, pain management and nutrition planning. 

Pediatric Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Hodgkin's Lymphoma Patient Stories

Hodgkin’s lymphoma can strike at any time and affect people of all ages, and we here at Sheba Medical Center approach every case with the utmost care and professionalism.

Georgii’s story

When Georgii was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017, he and his mother traveled to Israel and came to Sheba where he started chemotherapy immediately. He was impressed with both Sheba and Israel and had nothing but words of praise.

“I am really impressed by Israeli medicine. The entire medical staff working at Sheba Medical Center is wonderful – the nurses, and my physician Dr. Assaf Barg, he was brilliant! Everybody was very kind and considerate to me.”

Now, Georgii is back to living a happy and healthy life and we’re proud to have helped make that happen.

Ayelet’s story

When Ayelet Rozenberg was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, she was just 21 years old and her whole life was in front of her. As her condition progressed, chemotherapy and radiation therapy weren’t enough and her doctors needed to take a more aggressive therapeutic approach.

And even though the treatment would save her life, Ayelet was devastated when she learned that this treatment might prevent her from conceiving a child. She decided not to let that happen and so she set out on a journey to find a solution. That’s how she came to us.

Ayelet turned to Prof. Dror Meirow, Head of Sheba’s Fertility Preservation Center, who suggested an experimental treatment called ovarian tissue cryopreservation. And after she was cured of her Hodgking’s lymphoma, it wasn’t long before she met the love of her life and got married.

When Ayelet and her husband decided they were ready to become parents, they returned to Sheba and she underwent IVF. Today, Ayelet is a proud mother, and the first woman in the world to deliver four children following ovarian tissue cryopreservation.

“Truly, it is a miracle from God,” says Ayelet. “When I fell ill, I could never imagine having a family this big. You can’t begin to comprehend how difficult the idea of not being a mother is, but luckily, I’ve met wonderful doctors who acted as God’s messengers.”

We are thrilled to have helped Ayelet achieve her dreams of becoming a mother.

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Sheba Medical Center provides innovative, personalized medical care to patients from around the world. We are the largest, most comprehensive hospital in the Middle East and dedicated to providing advanced and compassionate medicine for everyone. We welcome all cases, including the rarest and the most challenging. Our medical teams collaborate to provide the best possible health outcomes. From your initial inquiry through the long-term follow-up care, we are here for you.

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