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April 1, 1974

BCG Vaccine Treatment of Hodgkin Disease

Author Affiliations

National Cancer Institute Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1974;228(1):28. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230260022015

To the Editor.—  I feel obliged to respond to the MEDICAL NEWS article about the use of BCG vaccine in Hodgkin disease (227:131, 1974). I consider Dr. McIlvanie's comment, "We have been killing people with chemotherapy for so many years" to be somewhat irresponsible if correctly quoted. Not only has survival improved markedly in drug-treated patients,1,2 but many patients remain disease-free after ending all therapy for periods now approaching ten years, a phenomenon not observed before aggressive chemotherapy. These data are derived from many hundreds of patients in multiple institutions. It is difficult to understand, therefore, how a physician could draw this negative conclusion based on two patients, both of whom received what most experienced physicians would consider an inappropriate sequence, and therefore inadequate, trial of chemotherapy. In addition, both these patients are apparently not entirely free of disease; their short follow-up period would certainly warrant more cautious optimism.Since