Since prolonged remission can be induced in the majority of patients with Hodgkin's disease (HD), treatment-related mortality and morbidity have emerged. We investigated whether awareness of toxicity diminished treatment-related mortality for unselected patients treated between 1972 and 1993 in general hospitals in the southeastern Netherlands. We also estimated the prevalence of treatment-related morbidity among patients treated in the 1980s. Data were collected on all 345 HD patients registered in the Eindhoven Cancer Registry between 1972 and 1993. Medical records and histology were reviewed; follow-up ended in 1994. Administration of MOPP chemotherapy decreased, and there was a shift from total nodal irradiation to less extended low-dose radiotherapy. For cured patients the 10-year relative survival improved from 84% in the 1970s to 90% in the 1980s, which is reflected by a decline in excess mortality from 16% to 10%. The 10-year relative mortality risk due to secondary malignancies decreased from 4.3 (95% CI, 1.2-7.4) to 3.0 (CI 0.2-5.8), which is also reflected by a decline in the 10-year cumulative incidence for all cancers from 10% to 5%. However, the relative risk of late cardiovascular death, which is closely related to previous irradiation, barely changed, as shown by a decrease from 2.4 (CI 0.4-4.5) to 2.2 (CI .0-4.7). HD survivors profited less from the sharp decline in cardiovascular mortality observed for the general population. Among patients, the prevalence of serious treatment-related morbidity 5 years or more after initial diagnosis was 34%. In conclusion, modest decline in excess mortality among cured HD patients was observed in the 1980s, as reflected by a decrease in mortality due to second malignancies. However, late mortality, especially due to radiation-related cardiovascular disease, is still substantial. About one third of HD survivors suffer radiation induced sequelae. Clinical trials to find ways to minimize iatrogenic complications are important.

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Annals of Hematology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Spronsen, D.J, Post, P.N, Crommelin, D.J.A, Breed, W.P.M, & Coebergh, J.W.W. (1998). Modest decline in late mortality following Hodgkin's disease in the southeastern Netherlands since 1972. Annals of Hematology, 76(5), 205–209. doi:10.1007/s002770050390