New treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma shows promise

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Bryanna Sterzenbach
Published: Updated:

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that mostly strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40, and is usually treated with chemo and radiation.

Now, a new treatment is turning the body against the deadly cells, giving more hope to people battling this disease.

Georgie Garabet knows to be a good dad to Sophia and Jude. He would need to know a little bit about a lot. At just 43, he didn’t expect he would have to do a crash course on cancer.

“I didn’t know what lymphoma was until they told me I had it,” said Garabet.

One of the first signs is an uncontrollable itch.

“I had to sleep standing up, sometimes. I couldn’t lay down. It was so bad.”

Weight loss was quick and extreme.

“I’m usually around 245, 250. I got down to 170-ish.”

Georgie was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin lymphoma.

“I’m just worried about my family.”

Immediately, he enrolled in a phase three clinical trial at City of Hope that combines chemo with Nivolumab, an antibody that tracks down the cancer hiding in the body and calls on the immune system to attack.

After one year of treatment, 94% of patients were cancer-free, compared to 86% treated with the current standard of care, Brentuximab.

Less than 1% needed follow-up radiation.

“Patients were twice as likely to have a relapse or disease progression if they were in the Brentuximab arm. So, it was a huge improvement,” said Dr. Alex Herrera, a Hematologist.

After his fourth infusion, Georgie was told there was no trace of lymphoma in his body.

Two years later, still no sign.

The next steps include following the almost one thousand patients in the trial. Researchers hope to apply to the FDA by the end of this trial to make this treatment the standard of care for all stage three and four Hodgkin lymphoma patients.

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