Drug showing promise in treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma

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Researchers have found that the drug brentuximab vedotin has been helping people with Hodgkin lymphoma as one grateful Southern California man is learning. (KABC)

A relatively new medication is showing promise to treat patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, as one grateful Southern California man is learning.

A few years ago, Lowell Winer's doctors at City of Hope thought he might lose his battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. From 2006 to 2010, he underwent continuous rounds of chemo and two autologous stem cell transplants.

Each time, he went into remission and then the cancer returned.

"He did well for about a year, and the cancer came back," Dr. Auayporn Nademanee said. "The lymphoma came back. This is not unusual."

When the situation started to look bleak, Winer's doctor recommended a clinical trial of the medication brentuximab vedotin, which goes by the trade name Adcetris.

It's the first treatment to be FDA-approved for Hodgkin lymphoma in the last 20 to 30 years, according to Dr. Robert Chen.

The drug is a cancer-killing agent that targets a specific protein on the surface of the cancer cells, Chen said. The side effects are significantly less severe than traditional chemotherapy, like no hair loss or nausea.

At the five-year mark of a study, researchers could find no evidence of cancer in 34 of 102 patients. Thirty-eight percent of them remained in remission.

To this day, the 45-year-old Lowell is cancer-free.

Lowell left his job as a successful mobile-app creator to pursue a masters in psychotherapy. He wants to inspire other patients to keep fighting.

"We're very happy. This is a very exciting time to be in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma," Dr. Chen said.
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