Causes of Hodgkin lymphoma
The cause of Hodgkin lymphoma remains unknown. There are some risk factors that may contribute to its development.
These risk factors include:
Poor immunity. This affects people who are taking medicines that suppress the immune system after an organ transplant, people who have HIV, and people with rare medical conditions that reduce immunity.
Previous exposure to the Epstein Barr virus, which causes glandular fever. This may be associated with a slightly increased risk of developing Hodgkin lymphoma later in life.
Most people who develop Hodgkin lymphoma don’t have any risk factors.
In the UK, Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in younger people aged 20–34 and older people aged 70–79, but it can occur at any age. It’s slightly more common in men than women.
Having a member of the family with Hodgkin lymphoma may slightly increase someone’s risk of getting it. It’s not yet known whether this is caused by an inherited faulty gene or because families may have similar lifestyle factors that affect their risk. The identical twin of someone with Hodgkin lymphoma has a slightly higher risk than other members of the family, but since Hodgkin lymphoma is not common, this risk is very small.
Hodgkin lymphoma is not infectious and can’t be passed on to other people.