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A comprehensive analysis of four clinical trials found that anti-programmed cell death-1 therapies may have long-term survival benefits in patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma. However, results varied based on disease status and depth of remission, which may indicate a need for targeted treatment strategies.

  • Anti-programmed cell death-1 therapies can prolong survival in patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Achieving complete remission leads to more favorable outcomes.
  • Survival benefits may vary depending on prior treatments and the response to therapy.
  • Further studies are necessary to optimize treatment duration and combination strategies.

Anti-programmed cell death-1 (anti-PD-1) therapies have demonstrated good efficacy and tolerance for patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma. However, there is limited data on their long-term effects. 

A recent study published in the journal Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy examined the outcomes of patients who responded favorably to anti-PD-1 treatments, consolidating data from four pivotal phase 2 studies.

Evaluating Long-Term Survival Outcomes

Among the 324 patients enrolled across the four studies, 260 were considered for the analysis of long-term outcomes. Findings revealed that patients achieving complete remission (CR) had a 2.5-fold higher 3-year progression-free survival rate than those only reaching partial remission. These findings confirm that deeper remission translates to improved survival benefits.

In addition, the study’s results suggest that the benefits of anti-PD-1 therapies might vary based on prior treatments used. Those previously treated with brentuximab vedotin, for instance, experienced less favorable PFS. Therefore, personalizing treatment strategies may be helpful based on an individual’s therapeutic history and disease response.

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Optimizing Therapy Duration

Another aspect of the research was to determine the optimal duration for anti-PD-1 therapies. The results showed that patients treated with these therapies for 24 months or longer had a substantially better 3-year progression-free survival rate. Therefore, extending the treatment duration may have potential benefits, particularly for patients who respond positively.

The Road Ahead: Drawing Conclusions for Clinical Practice

The evidence suggests that achieving deeper remission, particularly complete remission, can greatly improve long-term outcomes in relapsed patients. For clinicians, this translates to a need for a careful evaluation of each patient’s disease status, depth of remission, and prior treatment history. By doing so, healthcare providers may be able to make improved decisions about treatment duration and combinations to provide the best possible outcomes for their patients.


Liu, W., Lin, N., Feng, X., Xie, Y., You, C., Zhou, X., Song, Y., & Zhu, J. (2023). Long-term survival benefit of anti-PD-1 therapy in patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41392-023-01600-7