Purpose: To investigate whether combined-modality treatment (CMT) with two cycles of doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD) followed by extended-field radiotherapy (EF-RT) is superior to EF-RT alone in patients with early favorable Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL).
Patients and methods: Between 1993 and 1998, 650 patients with newly diagnosed, histology-proven HL in clinical stages IA to IIB without risk factors were enrolled onto this multicenter study and randomly assigned to receive 30 Gy EF-RT plus 10 Gy to the involved field (arm A) or two cycles of ABVD followed by the same radiotherapy (arm B). Results At a median observation time of 87 months, there was no difference between treatment arms in terms of complete response rate (arm A, 95%; arm B, 94%) and overall survival (at 7 years: arm A, 92%; arm B, 94%; P = .43). However, freedom from treatment failure was significantly different, with 7-year rates of 67% in arm A (95% CI, 61% to 73%) and 88% in arm B (95% CI, 84% to 92%; P <or= .0001). This was due mainly to significantly more relapses after EF-RT only (arm A, 22%; arm B, 3%). No patient treated with CMT experienced relapse before year 3. Relapses were treated mainly with bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone, or with the combination cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone/ABVD; treatment of relapse was significantly more successful in arm A than in arm B (P = .017). In total, there were 39 second malignancies, with 21 in arm A and 18 in arm B, respectively. The incidence was approximately 0.8% per year during years 2 to 9 and was highest in older patients (P < .0001) and those with "B" symptoms (P = .012).
Conclusion: CMT consisting of two cycles of ABVD plus EF-RT is more effective than EF-RT alone.