Often experts do not know what causes Hodgkin lymphoma. But some things may increase the risk of developing it.
In many cases, experts do not know exactly what causes lymphoma. However, some things may increase the risk of developing it. These are called risk factors.
It is important to remember that having these risk factors does not mean you will get lymphoma. Many people affected by lymphoma do not have any risk factors.
The Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is sometimes linked to Hodgkin lymphoma. EBV is the virus that causes glandular fever. It is very common in the UK and does not usually cause serious illness. It is very rare to develop lymphoma because of an EBV infection.
Lymphoma is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people.
If the body's immune system is weak, the risk of developing lymphoma may be higher.
Conditions such as HIV can weaken the immune system. Drugs called immunosuppressants also cause this. Some people need this type of drug after an organ transplant or to treat auto-immune disease.
People who have a parent, brother or sister with lymphoma have a slightly higher risk of developing Hodgkin lymphoma. We do not know why this is yet. It may be because there is a genetic change that runs in families. Or it may be because people in a family tend to have the same lifestyle and live in similar environments.
This risk is small. Most people who have a close relative with lymphoma will not develop lymphoma.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Collins G, et al. Guideline on the management of primary resistant and relapsed classical Hodgkin lymphoma. British Journal of Haematology. 2014. 164: 39–52. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjh.12582/pdf
Follows G, et al. Guidelines for the first line management of classical Hodgkin lymphoma. British Journal of Haematology. 2014. 166: 34–49. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjh.12878/pdf
McKay P, et al. Guidelines for the investigation and management of nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. British Journal of Haematology. 2016. 172: 32–43. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjh.13842/epdf
Treleaven J, et al. Guidelines on the use of irradiated blood components prepared by the British Committee for Standards in Haematology blood transfusion task force. British Journal of Haematology. 2011. 152: 35–51. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08444.x/full.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editors, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist; and Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.
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