Michael Chin, MD WorcesterRecent improvements in the treatment of children with Hodgkin lymphoma have come about with guidelines for the use of 3D computed tomography (CT) based radiation therapy and volumetric image guidance. The International Lymphoma Radiation Oncology Group created these guidelines to decrease the exposure of radiation to preserved tissues in order to prevent long-term health issues. The full publication of the guidelines will be available in the next couple of weeks. The guidelines will be published in the American Society for Radiation Oncology Journal.

The issue with the treatment of pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma is that the procedures have children at similar radiation regimens as adults. Excess exposure to radiation increases the risk of long-term heart disease and secondary cancers. The risk is only increased when exposed at a young age.

There is an ambiguity as to which areas have lymph nodes, so previous guidelines were put in place that stressed the use of 2D imaging for treatment to reduce radiation exposure.

The new guidelines have been implemented to better identify target volumes that should be exposed to radiation therapy. This will help radiation oncologist focus on the areas of needed radiation and protect the areas that are less needed for radiation therapy. Also in development is an assessment of chemotherapy response to the desired lymphoma as well as the volume of the tissue preserved.

New technologies in the field of radiation oncology have allowed physicians to develop more accurate methods of delivering the radiation therapy and figuring out areas on the body that need the most focus. These guidelines have the potential to not only be beneficial for children with Hodgkin lymphoma, but also to women with breast cancer. The guidelines have the potential to decrease the use of radiation therapy in breast cancer patients by 80%.

Radiation therapy is becoming more individualizes, as doctors are able to focus more on the patient and less on what has worked in the past.

Take a look at Michael Chin’s last post here to read more about developments in radiation therapy for the prevention of long term health risks.