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ABVD Chemotherapy


Updated June 10, 2014

What is ABVD?

ABVD is the name of a chemotherapy regimen used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is perhaps the most common chemotherapy regimen used worldwide for newly diagnosed patients. It is a very effective combination of drugs for all stages of Hodgkin’s disease.

Drugs Used in the ABVD Regimen

  • Adriamycin (doxorubicin) -- given as an infusion in your veins on days 1 and 15
  • Blenoxane (bleomycin) -- given as a short intravenous injection on days 1 and 15
  • Velban (vinblastine) -- given as a short intravenous injection on days 1 and 15
  • DTIC (dacarbazine) -- given as an infusion in your veins on days 1 and 15

How Frequently Is ABVD Done?

ABVD is done in cycles. Each consists of giving the patient injections of these 4 drugs twice (on days 1 and 15). Cycles are repeated in 4 week intervals. That means that the second cycle starts 2 weeks after day 15 of the first cycle (on day 29), and so on.

How Many Cycles Are Required?

That depends on the stage of lymphoma and the presence or absence of certain prognostic factors. Early stage disease with only favorable risk factors may require only 2 to 4 cycles, and more advanced disease may require up to 8 cycles.

Tests Required With ABVD Chemotherapy

Before ABVD chemotherapy is started, blood counts as well as blood tests for kidney and liver function are done. An echocardiogram is required to test heart function before the treatment begins. As doxorubicin may occasionally affect the heart, it's important to have that data for comparison later on during the treatment. A chest x-ray and lung function tests may be used to gauge the fitness of the lungs prior to use of bleomycin, as this drug can affect the lungs.

During chemotherapy, blood counts are required before every drug injection cycle. Other tests may be repeated as required.

Side Effects During Chemotherapy

  • Nausea and vomiting –- may be common, and ant-emetics (drugs that prevent and control nausea and vomiting) will be routinely prescribed
  • Hair loss
  • Fall in blood counts, which will be routinely monitored. Low counts may result in deferring cycles,and the need for growth factors and protective measures from infection. Report fever immediately.
  • Sore mouth and diarrhea
  • Discoloration of skin and nails
  • Mild alteration of sensations in hands and feet Source:

    Handbook of Cancer Chemotherapy. Seventh Edition. Editor: Roland T Skeel. Published by Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2007.

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