A trial comparing radiotherapy and chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Cancer type:

Blood cancers
Hodgkin lymphoma




Phase 3

This trial compared radiotherapy with chemotherapy for people with early stage Hodgkin lymphoma.

Doctors usually treat early stage Hodgkin lymphoma with chemotherapy and radiotherapy or radiotherapy alone. Many people treated for Hodgkin lymphoma are cured but some standard treatments have long term side effects.

When this trial was done, doctors wanted to see if a newer combination of chemotherapy called ABVD was a useful treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma and had fewer long term side effects than radiotherapy. ABVD is doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarzabine.

The aim of this trial was to find out

  • How well ABVD works for people with early stage Hodgkin lymphoma
  • More about the very long term side effects of radiotherapy

Summary of results

This trial was not able to show that ABVD chemotherapy alone worked better than radiotherapy for early stage Hodgkin lymphoma.

399 people with stage 1 or stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma took part in this trial. They were divided into two groups

  • Half had radiotherapy (patients in this group who had a high risk of their lymphoma coming back also had a short course of ABVD)
  • Half had up to six cycles of treatment with ABVD

This trial unfortunately stopped recruiting patients earlier than planned because of results from other clinical trials for Hodgkin lymphoma. These trials showed that the standard way of giving radiotherapy used in this trial was no longer recommended. The doctors running this trial decided that it would be better to stop the trial early.

The researchers analysed the results they had so far in 2003. They looked at how many people were alive about 5 years after treatment. They found no difference between the 2 treatment groups.

They also looked at whose cancer came back. They found that the cancer did not come back in just over 9 out of 10 people (93%) who had radiotherapy and chemotherapy or radiotherapy alone. This compared to just under 9 out of 10 people (87%) who had chemotherapy alone.

The trial team will continue to follow up the people who took part in this trial to find out more about the very long term side effects of radiotherapy. These long term side effects may include heart problems or second cancers. And to find out how long people live for after treatment in the 2 treatment groups.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Ralph Meyer

Supported by

Canadian Cancer Society
National Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG)

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 96

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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