Background and methods: MOPP (mechlorethamine, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone) has been the standard treatment for Hodgkin's disease for almost 20 years. In a randomized, multicenter trial, we compared three regimens of primary systemic therapy for newly diagnosed advanced Hodgkin's disease in Stages IIIA2, IIIB, and IVA or IVB: (1) MOPP alone given for 6 to 8 cycles, (2) MOPP alternating with ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) for 12 cycles, and (3) ABVD alone for 6 to 8 cycles. Patients in a first relapse after radiation therapy were eligible. No additional radiation therapy was given. Patients who did not have a complete response or who had a relapse with either MOPP alone or ABVD alone were switched to the opposite regimen.
Results: Of 361 eligible patients, 123 received MOPP, 123 received MOPP alternating with ABVD, and 115 received ABVD alone. The patients were stratified according to age, stage, previous radiation, histologic features, and performance status. The overall response rate was 93 percent, with complete responses in 77 percent: 67 percent in the MOPP group, 82 percent in the ABVD group, and 83 percent in the MOPP-ABVD group (P = 0.006 for the comparison of MOPP with the other two regimens, both of which contained doxorubicin). The rates of failure-free survival at five years were 50 percent for MOPP, 61 percent for ABVD, and 65 percent for MOPP-ABVD. Age, stage (III vs. IV), and regimen influenced failure-free survival significantly. Overall survival at five years was 66 percent for MOPP, 73 percent for ABVD, and 75 percent for MOPP-ABVD (P = 0.28 for the comparison of MOPP with the doxorubicin regimens). MOPP had more severe toxic effects on bone marrow than ABVD and was associated with greater reductions in the prescribed dose.
Conclusions: In this trial, ABVD therapy for 6 to 8 months was as effective as 12 months of MOPP alternating with ABVD, and both were superior to MOPP alone in the treatment of advanced Hodgkin's disease. ABVD was less myelotoxic than MOPP or ABVD alternating with MOPP.