Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk factors?

In many cases, people who develop NHL have no risk factors, and doctors seldom know why one person develops non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and another does not.

Certain risk factors increase the chance that a person will develop this disease although most people who have these risk factors will never develop the disease.

Risk factors

Medications that suppress the immune system: Using immunosuppressive agents (such as after an organ transplant) is a risk factor as it reduces the body's ability to fight infection.

Weakened immune system: The risk of developing lymphoma may be increased by having a weakened immune system.

Certain infections: Certain viral and bacterial infections increase the risk of NHL. Examples are HIV, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus. A type of bacteria sometimes linked to NHL is the ulcer-causing H. pylori.

Note: Lymphoma is not contagious. It's impossible to catch lymphoma from another person.

Age: Although non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can occur in young people, the chance of developing this disease increases with age. Most people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are older than 60 years of age.

Other possible links: People who work with herbicides or certain other chemicals may be at increased risk of this disease. Researchers are also looking at a possible link between using hair dyes before 1980 and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. None of these possible links have definitely been proven.

Note: Having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Most people who have risk factors never develop cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2015

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