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Find out more about Hodgkin lymphoma in our live chat with Dr Stephen Daw

Bloodwise
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27 Sep 2017

We’re holding a Q&A about Hodgkin lymphoma with Bloodwise-funded researcher Dr Stephen Daw. Find out more about his research and how you can get involved.

A human B-lymphocyte, the type of cell that is involved in Hodgkin lymphoma. Credit: NIAID, Human B Lymphocyte (29196367446), CC BY 2.0.

On Thursday 28 September, Dr Stephen Daw will be coming in to the Bloodwise office to answer your questions about Hodgkin lymphoma in our latest Facebook Live Q&A. Ahead of the session, here's the low-down on Dr Daw’s exciting research.

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

In Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of white blood cell known as a B-lymphocyte starts to multiply at a much higher rate than usual. The extra cells start to collect in the part of the body’s immune system known as the lymph nodes, leading to (usually painless) swelling in these areas. Though it can occur at any age, people most at risk of developing Hodgkin lymphoma are those in their early 20s and those in their 70s – in fact, for people aged 15-25, Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common cancer of any type.

What are Bloodwise doing about it?

Our researchers are developing new ways to treat Hodgkin lymphoma by targeting molecules that contribute to lymphoma development. We have two trials – one looking at reducing the side effects of radiotherapy in children, and the other trying out a new biological treatment for people who are unable to have standard chemotherapy. 

Searching for a kinder way to treat Hodgkin lymphoma

One part of our research is being carried out by Dr Daw. As well as his work as a consultant treating children and teenagers with blood cancer at University College Hospital in London, Dr Daw researches lymphoma and how best to treat this cancer in young people. 

Dr Daw is currently leading the UK section of a multi-country clinical trial on Hodgkin lymphoma in young people, known as Euronet-PHL-C2. The main aim of the trial is to reduce the level of radiotherapy given to treat intermediate and advanced risk Hodgkin lymphoma whilst still effectively treating the disease – a tricky balancing act. Giving less radiotherapy could lower the risk of long-term side effects associated with this treatment, such as heart problems, infertility and increased risk of developing a second cancer in the future. This is particularly a burden for young cancer survivors because – unlike people who have cancer later in life – they will live most of their lives at risk of these side effects. 

What’s the trial about?

The trial will look at decreasing radiotherapy given to newly diagnosed children and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma while still effectively treating the disease, and to see if intensifying chemotherapy in those with intermediate and advanced Hodgkin lymphoma can compensate for the reduction in radiotherapy. People taking part in the trial will be assessed early on in chemotherapy to see how well they are responding to this treatment, which will provide information on whether they are also likely to need radiotherapy. Those who do need radiotherapy will either be given standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or a new treatment of intensified chemotherapy and less radiotherapy.

Excitingly, the research will be open to people 16-25, who are often ‘lost in the gap’ between those who get cancer in childhood and those who get cancer in adulthood, and therefore don’t get the option to take part in many trials.

Image credit: Rhoda Baer, patient prepared for radiation therapy, public domain.

The trial has begun in Germany and a few other countries. In the UK, recruitment of children and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma will begin by the end of this year. The trial will run for several years so that anyone taking part can be followed up for 5 years after treatment.

What’s next in this line of research?

In addition to working on reducing and eliminating radiotherapy, there are some other aspects of the trial that Dr Daw will be working on in the coming few years, including reducing the level of chemotherapy needed to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, so side effects from treatment can be reduced even further. Dr Daw also wants to test a new way to assess the scans that tell us whether cancer cells are still in the body, as the current way of assessing by looking at the scans can sometimes give misleading results. The new way involves assessing how active the cancer cells are compared to healthy cells and should be much more accurate.

People taking part in the trial will also be asked to provide small quantities of blood and tumour tissue so that researchers can find out more about vital questions like what causes lymphoma, and why Hodgkin lymphoma comes back in some people but not others. The research team will also be looking for biomarkers – biological markers of disease that can be used for diagnosis and predicting the outlook of a person with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Our Facebook live event

The Q&A session will be streamed live on our Facebook page at 4pm on 28 September 2017. If you’d like to ask Dr Daw a question, please email us at support@bloodwise.org.uk.

Read more about our life-changing research on Hodgkin lymphoma. Research like this can only happen thanks to your generous support. Find out more about how you can help us continue to beat blood cancer.

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