Doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine sulfate, and dacarbazine (ABVD) is associated with severe toxicity in older patients, particularly from bleomycin-induced lung toxicity (BLT). Therefore, using bleomycin has been questioned in older Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients, especially in early-stage HL. We therefore analyzed feasibility, toxicity, and efficacy of ABVD or AVD in 287 older early-stage favorable HL patients. We included patients ≥60 years of age in the German Hodgkin Study Group HD10 and HD13 trials randomized to either 2 cycles of ABVD (2×ABVD; n = 137) or AVD (2×AVD; n = 82), each followed by involved-field radiotherapy (IF-RT), with patients randomized to 4×ABVD+IF-RT (n = 68). Patients' median age was 65 years (range, 60-75) with comparable patient and disease characteristics. Grade III-IV adverse event rates were similar in patients receiving 2×AVD and 2×ABVD (40% and 39%, respectively), but considerably higher in patients receiving 4×ABVD (65%). Similarly, BLT was rare in patients receiving 2×ABVD/AVD, but occurred in 7/69 (10%) of patients randomized to 4×ABVD, with 3 lethal events. In conclusion, no effects of bleomycin on toxicity rates were detectable in older patients receiving 2 cycles of chemotherapy. However, we found a high risk of severe toxicity of bleomycin in older HL patients receiving more than 2 cycles of ABVD. These trials are registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov and www.isrctn.com as #NCT00265018 (HD10) and #ISRCTN63474366 (HD13).
© 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.