Childhood Hodgkin's Disease Treatments

These days, more than 90 percent of children who are newly-diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease can expect to be cured. Non-Hodgkin’s disease is less easily treated, with an overall cure rate of about 75 percent.

The most common treatments are radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, but treatment may be different depending on the stage of the cancer and whether the child has reached full growth.

Radiation therapy for childhood Hodgkin's disease is usually administered through a machine outside the body (external beam radiation therapy). Chemotherapy may be taken orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body and can kill cancer cells throughout the body.

In the event the Hodgkin's disease becomes resistant to treatment with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, very high doses of chemotherapy may then be used to treat the cancer. If the high doses of chemotherapy destroy the bone marrow, your child will likely undergo bone marrow transplantation. During this procedure, marrow is taken from your child’s bones before treatment. The marrow is then frozen and high-dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy is administered. The marrow that was taken from your child is then thawed and given back through a needle into a vein to replace the marrow that was destroyed. This type of transplant is called an autologous transplant. If the patient is given marrow taken from another person, the transplant is called an allogeneic transplant.