Treatment for Hodgkin's disease usually includes radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Sometimes, both are given. Treatment decisions depend on the stage of disease, its location in the body, which symptoms are present, and the general health and age of the patient. (Treatment of children with Hodgkin's disease is more complex and is not discussed here.)
Patients are often referred to doctors or medical centers that have special interest in the different treatments of Hodgkin's disease. Patients may also want to talk with their doctor about taking part in a research study of new treatment methods. These studies are called clinical trials.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and stop their growth. Radiation therapy is generally given in a hospital or clinic. Most often, patients receive radiation therapy five days a week for several weeks as outpatients.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. To treat Hodgkin's disease, the doctor prescribes a combination of drugs that work together. The drugs may be given in different ways: Some are given by mouth; others are injected into an artery, vein, or muscle. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to almost every part of the body. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles: a treatment period followed by a rest period, then another treatment period, and so on.