Published: 08-02-2019 13:42 | Updated: 08-02-2019 13:42

Young people with Hodgkin lymphoma have low relapse risk

The treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma is now so effective that young patients who do not have a relapse within two years of therapy have a life expectancy similar to that of their healthy peers. This according to a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and their colleagues at Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark and Radiumhospitalet in Oslo.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system that mainly affects people in their twenties. While the disease is fatal if left untreated, most sufferers are cured. The researchers behind the present study analysed data from over 2,500 patients in Sweden, Norway and Denmark between the ages of 18 and 49 to ascertain the magnitude of the relapse risk.

At present, these patients are being monitored for up to five years after treatment. The results of the study show, however, that even after two years the patients have, on average, the same life expectancy as individuals of the same age and gender without Hodgkin lymphoma, and that the risk of relapse averages out at only about 4 per cent.

“Bearing in mind the good survival rate and low risk of relapse after two years, the frequency of check-ups for detecting relapse could be greatly reduced after this time,” says joint last author Karin Ekström Smedby, researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Solna. “That said, further checks are needed at a later stage to find and treat delayed adverse reactions to the treatment.”

The study was financed by the Danish and Swedish cancer societies.


“Relapse risk and loss of lifetime after modern combined modality treatment for young Hodgkin lymphoma patients: A Nordic Lymphoma Epidemiology Group study”. Jorne Lionel Biccler, Ingrid Glimelius, Sandra Eloranta, Knut B. Smeland, Peter de Nully Brown, Lasse Hjort Jakobsen, Henrik Frederiksen, Mats Jerkeman, Alexander Fosså, Therese M.L. Andersson, Harald Holte, Martin Bøgsted, Tarec Christoffer El-Galaly and Karin E. Smedby.
Journal of Clinical Oncology, online 6 February 2019, doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.01652.