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Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma are certain traits, behaviors and exposures that researchers believe can increase the likelihood that an individual will develop this relatively rare type of blood cancer. In most cases, the precise role of these factors in the development of lymphoma remains unclear. Some types of risk, like tobacco use, are lifestyle related and can be reduced by making specific choices, while others, such as a family history, cannot. Also, it is noteworthy that having one or even multiple risk factors does not definitively lead to Hodgkin lymphoma. Likewise, many people who are diagnosed with the condition have no known risk factors.

Some of the Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors that have been identified by scientists include:

  • A weakened immune system – The immune system can become compromised if an individual has an infection like HIV or takes certain medications, such as those prescribed to suppress the body’s immune response following an organ transplant.
  • Infections that affect the DNA of lymphocytes – Studies suggest that the Epstein-Barr virus and the human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1) can directly transform white blood cells in the lymphatic system into cancerous cells.
  • Family history – Having a close family member who has any type of lymphoma can heighten an individual’s risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Age – Most cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed in early and late adulthood (between ages 15 and 30 and after age 55).
  • Smoking – Tobacco use has been shown to elevate the risk of developing many types of cancer, including Hodgkin lymphoma.

The renowned researchers in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Malignant Hematology Program are working continually to enhance their understanding of how certain risk factors can contribute to the development of Hodgkin lymphoma and, ultimately, to find a cure. Our multispecialty team works closely with each patient to assess his or her risk, reach an accurate diagnosis, develop an individualized treatment plan and monitor the patient’s progress on an ongoing basis. Our patients have access to the latest and best treatments for lymphoma, including promising new therapies that are available only through our clinical trials program.

If you’d like to learn more about Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors, the experts at Moffitt can provide more detailed information and create an individualized risk profile for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.


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