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Newly Approved Front-Line cHL Treatment Was First in Over 40 Years

Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new front-line treatment combining Adcetris® (brentuximab vedotin) and chemotherapy for stage III or IV classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). This was the first approval for a front-line of treatment for cHL in over 40 years. cHL is the most common form of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Prior to this new approval, frontline treatment for cHL was often a combination of chemotherapies called ABVD (adriamycin [also known as doxyrubicin], bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine). This treatment has been incredibly effective in treating cHL and has had an approximately 85% progression-free survival rate (PFS).1 PFS is a measure of how long a patient lives with a disease and does not get any worse. PFS is one of the many ways that clinical trials judge how well a study intervention works.2

Research found that patients who underwent a regimen of Adcetris®, an antibody-drug conjugate, plus the chemotherapy combination of AVD (adriamycin [also known as doxyrubicin], vinblastine, and dacarbazine) were 23% less likely to exhibit disease progression, die, or begin a new treatment compared to a chemotherapy-only ABVD (adriamycin [also known as doxyrubicin], bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) regimen.3

What is Adcetris®?

Adcetris® is classified as an antibody-drug conjugate, meaning that it has a component that is a monoclonal antibody (a type of targeted therapy) and a component that is chemotherapy. The antibody connects to a protein known as CD30, which is found on the surface of cHL cells. This allows the chemotherapy to target the tumor directly.4

Adcetris® has previously been approved by the FDA to treat relapsed cHL. Adcetris® is also approved for cHL patients who have had stem cell transplants that are at high risk of relapse or progression. Adcetris® is also approved to treat two other forms of lymphoma, systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma and cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma.4

Common side effects include peripheral neuropathy, low blood cell counts, digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as fevers and fatigue. Adcetris® is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding patients.4 Patients should always have open discussions with their doctor about which therapy best meets their specific needs.

  1. Allen, P. B., & Gordon, L. I. (2017). Frontline Therapy for Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma by Stage and Prognostic Factors. Clinical Medicine Insights. Oncology, 11, 1179554917731072.
  2. Progression-free survival. National Cancer Institute. Available at Accessed 4/16/18.
  3. FDA expands approval of Adcetris for first-line treatment of Stage III or IV classical Hodgkin lymphoma in combination with chemotherapy. Available at
  4. Adcetris prescribing information. Available at