Ethnic and regional differences in the epidemiology and pathological aspects of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) between Western and Asian patients may be associated with differences in clinical features and prognosis. We retrospectively analyzed the clinical and histopathological characteristics, therapeutic outcomes, and prognostic factors of 539 HL patients treated at 16 centers in Korea. We found that the incidence of histological subtypes of HL in Korea was similar to that in Western and other Asian countries. However, the incidence peaked between 16 and 30 years of age, unlike the bimodal age distribution seen in Western countries. In patients with stage I-IIA non-bulky disease, the complete response (CR) rate was similar between combined modality therapy and chemotherapy alone (93% vs. 84%, P = 0.44), and there was no difference in relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS). Patients with stage I-II disease plus unfavorable factors and those with advanced-stage disease treated with combination chemotherapy regimens had an overall CR rate of 77%, with no difference between doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD) and non-ABVD regimens (77.2% vs. 76.8%, P = 0.95). Among those patients who achieved final CR, there was no significant difference in RFS or OS between those who achieved interim CR and PR. Only the presence of B symptoms was independently predictive of a shorter RFS. Age > 45 years, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group 2-4, and B symptoms were independent risk factors for death. Although the incidence of HL was lower in Korea than in Western countries, the distribution of morphological subtypes, treatment outcomes, and patient prognosis were similar.
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