Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Purpose of review

Despite the advances in the treatment of Hodgkin Lymphoma, patients with refractory disease still have a poor prognosis. Hodgkin Lymphoma can be refractory at first diagnosis or might become refractory later in the course of treatment. Both situations represent a therapeutic challenge.

Recent findings

Intensified chemotherapy with BEACOPP escalated has been evaluated in early unfavourable and advanced Hodgkin Lymphoma and led to an improved tumour control and reduced rates of refractory disease. Furthermore, there is growing evidence for the role of tandem autologous transplant in breaking refractory disease. For patients relapsing after autologous transplant, more recent analyses have reported outcome and defined risk factors. The antibody drug conjugate brentuximab vedotin is a new, highly effective therapeutic option for these patients. Dose-reduced allogeneic transplant is a therapeutic alternative for patients relapsing after autologous transplant, but induction of a remission is the prerequisite for a successful allogeneic transplant. Brentuximab vedotin has been evaluated as a bridge to allogeneic transplant for patients refractory to conventional treatment.


Recent therapeutic advances have improved the prognosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma by prevention or successful treatment of refractory disease. The use of new drugs such as brentuximab vedotin will hopefully further increase the cure rates.

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