Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors

Hodgkin lymphoma develops in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Although it is not yet known what causes Hodgkin lymphoma, researchers have identified certain factors that are common among those who get this disease.

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Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors


  • Gender: Men have a slightly greater chance of developing the disease than women.
  • Age: Young to middle-aged adults in their 20s and early 30s and those over age 55 are at an increased risk for developing Hodgkin lymphoma.


  • Epstein-barr virus (EBV): Known for causing "mono" in young adults, EBV may be associated with the development of certain cancers, including lymphomas.
  • Compromised immune system: Having a compromised immune system from HIV/AIDS, or from immunosuppressants to prevent organ transplant rejection, may increase the risk for developing Hodgkin lymphoma.


  • Family history: Having a parent or sibling with the disease may increase the risk. However, the American Cancer Society reports that only five percent of cases are found to have a family link.


  • Geography: Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in North America and northern Europe.
  • Socioeconomic status: Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in individuals with a higher socioeconomic background. 

Understanding risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.

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