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High-tech scans spare lymphoma patients intensive chemo

Publish Date: 27/6/2016

The use of PET scans can spare Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients from the serious effects of chemotherapy thanks to a study supported by the Leukaemia Foundation*.

Results of a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found PET scan imaging can predict treatment outcomes and can be used to personalise treatment to reduce treatment side-effects.

The Response Adapted Therapy in HL study was the first collaborative project funded through Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS).

More than 1200 people with advanced HL took part in this important study by doctors within The Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) and partners in the UK and Europe.

The study demonstrates that PET can determine early response to standard treatment for HL, enabling doctors to identify those patients who need ongoing and more intense treatment from those who have responded well and don’t need to be treated with more toxic treatment.

Personalising treatment based on how well it works is a major development as so many HL patients are young and the standard treatment causes long-term effects on internal organs and fertility.

The trial clearly showed that patients with a ‘clear’ (negative) PET could avoid some of the intense and toxic treatment, thereby reducing their risk of long-term effects to their health and wellbeing.

The outcome of this trial is a change in treatment protocol, especially for young people with HL, reducing the toxicity of treatment without compromising the treatment outcomes.

The Leukaemia Foundation funded the Phase III clinical trial in 2010. The chief investigators were Professor John Seymour, Dr Judith Trotman, Dr Leanne Berkahn and Professor Michael Fulham.

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