MER immunotherapy and combination chemotherapy for advanced, recurrent Hodgkin's disease. Cancer and Leukemia Group B study

Cancer Clin Trials. 1981;4(2):99-105.


The effects of chemotherapy and chemoimmunotherapy in previously treated advanced Hodgkin's disease were evaluated in a randomized study of 167 patients by CALGB. Combination chemotherapy consisted of treatment with one of three regimens with further randomization of MER (methanol extraction residue BCG) immunotherapy or no MER during chemotherapy. CVPP (CCNU, vinblastine, procarbazine, prednisone) was compared to a new combination, BAVS (bleomycin, Adriamycin, vincristine, streptozotocin), and to a third regimen consisting of alternating cycles of CVPP and BAVS. At the current analysis there is no significant difference in complete responses among the chemotherapy regimens. MER did not improve complete response frequency and was associated with significantly poorer survival for patients previously treated with chemotherapy. There was also no benefit with MER for patients with at least one pretreatment positive skin test. Because of the documented lack of therapeutic benefit and the morbidity of painful ulcers, MER treatment has been discontinued.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • BCG Vaccine / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Hodgkin Disease / drug therapy
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Recurrence


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BCG Vaccine
  • methanol extraction residue (MER) tubercle bacillus fraction