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Several possible risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are currently being studied by researchers. In general, a risk factor is any characteristic, behavior or exposure that is believed to increase a person’s likelihood of developing this type of blood cancer, which originates in the body’s lymphatic system. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most people who have one or more risk factors never develop the condition, and many patients who are diagnosed with the condition don't have any at all.

While the precise underlying causes of the white blood cell changes that trigger non-Hodgkin lymphoma remain unclear, scientists have identified a number of factors that are believed to heighten an individual’s risk of developing the condition. These non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors include:

  • A weakened immune system resulting from medical treatments, such as organ transplantation, or medical conditions, such as HIV
  • Autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjorgren’s syndrome
  • Exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus
  • Exposure to the human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
  • A Helicobacter pylori infection (a bacterial infection in the lining of the stomach and small intestine)
  • Prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy for another type of cancer
  • Celiac disease (an adverse reaction to gluten that causes inflammation of the small bowel)
  • Exposure to certain pesticides

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is not believed to run in families, although an individual’s risk may be slightly elevated if a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) has had lymphoma. With regard to age and risk, most cases are diagnosed in individuals who over the age of 65.

The nationally recognized research team at Moffitt Cancer Center continues to make great strides in understanding how certain risk factors can lead to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and every day we come closer to our goal of one day beating this form of cancer. Our multispecialty team of experts works closely with each patient to assess potential risk factors, prepare a detailed diagnostic report and develop an individualized treatment plan. For the convenience of our patients, we offer all services in a single convenient location, and no referrals are required.

If you’d like to learn more about non-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.