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Patients responding positively to experimental cancer treatment

People who have been diagnosed with cancer can suffer enormously due to the devastating symptoms of the disease as well as the aggressive treatments that are often administered to ease the symptoms or cure the cancer. Unfortunately, medical experts are still struggling to find effective, safe treatments for certain types of cancer and must rely on trials and research.

Recently, one such trial for an experimental treatment has shown some promising results for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer significantly diminishes a person's ability to fight and recover from infections because it affects part of a person's immune system known as the lymphatic system. Many people have been unresponsive to various treatments, but hopefully the new research could lead to more positive recovery rates in the future.

The testing for the new treatment was conducted on 23 people who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Each of the patients in this study had shown no response to several other types of treatments researchers tried including chemotherapy, which is commonly used to effectively treat the illness.

However, in this study, doctors used nivolumab, which is a drug that blocks proteins that are supposed to control how and when the immune system attacks threats. When these proteins are blocked, the immune system is allowed to respond more aggressively and attack the cancer cells.

So far, the results have been quite promising. After receiving nivolumab, the Hodgkin lymphoma tumors shrunk considerably in nearly 70 percent of the patients and disappeared completely in four other patients.

While this drug and course of treatment is still being tested, it may be a source of hope to people who have been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and have struggled to find an effective treatment. As devastating as this disabling condition can be, hopefully this research will further improve the prognosis for patients with this illness.

Source: WebMD, "Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment Shows Promise," Robert Preidt, Dec. 6, 2014

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