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Stanford V

Find out what Stanford V is, how you have it and other important information about taking this combination of chemotherapy drugs. 

Stanford V is the name of a combination of chemotherapy drugs used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. You may hear it called Stanford 5 or SV. It is made up of the drugs:

  • doxorubicin
  • vinblastine
  • mechlorethamine (also called mustine or nitrogen mustard)
  • vincristine
  • bleomycin
  • etoposide
  • prednisone or prednisolone (steroids)

After your chemotherapy you may have a course of radiotherapy.

How you have it

You have Stanford V chemotherapy drugs into your bloodstream (intravenously).

You have the steroids as tablets. 

Drugs into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

Taking your tablets

You must take tablets according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

Each cycle of treatment lasts 4 weeks. You usually have 3 cycles, taking 12 weeks (3 months) in total.

You have the drugs as injections or drips. You have each cycle of treatment in the following way:

Week 1
  • doxorubicin, vinblastine and mechlorethamine into your bloodstream
Week 2
  • bleomycin and vincristine into your bloodstream
Week 3
  • doxorubicin, vinblastine and etoposide into your bloodstream
  • the following day you have etoposide into your bloodstream
Week 4
  • bleomycin and vincristine into your bloodstream

Then you have no treatment until the next cycle starts a week later.  

You take prednisolone or prednisone as tablets every other day for the 12 weeks. From the beginning of week 10 you gradually reduce your dose until you finish treatment after 12 weeks. Your doctor, pharmacist, or specialist nurse will tell you how to reduce the dose.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.


You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with these drugs. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.


Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

We haven't listed all the very rare side effects of this treatment. For further information see the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have that isn’t listed here to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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