Am I At Risk for Hodgkin Disease?

Scientists and medical professionals are working hard to better understand who will get Hodgkin disease, and why. For now, there is no way to tell if you will get Hodgkin disease before it happens. Many cancers have been linked to defective genes, chemical exposure, or dietary habits. Hodgkin disease has not.

The best way you can protect yourself from Hodgkin disease is to be aware of what makes you more likely to get it. These are called your risk factors. Knowing what puts you at risk for Hodgkin disease can help you make healthy choices that may help you avoid it.

However, just because you have one or more risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you will get Hodgkin disease. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get Hodgkin disease, or you can have few or no known risk factors and still get it.

These risk factors have been found to slightly raise your chances of getting the disease. Talk with your health care provider about any of the bolded statements below that apply to you so you can assess your risk.

I am between the ages of 15 and 40 or older than 55

Hodgkin disease occurs most often during the young adult years or after age 55.

I am male

More men than women get Hodgkin disease.

Other people in my family have had Hodgkin disease

If you have a brother or sister who has had Hodgkin disease, you are at higher risk yourself. Scientists think that in about 5% of cases Hodgkin disease runs in the family, but it is not known if this is due to shared genetic mutations or to some shared exposure.

I have Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

EBV is a viral infection that causes mononucleosis or "mono." Studies show people who have been infected with this virus may have a slightly higher risk of getting Hodgkin disease. Scientists are still trying to understand the role EBV may play in Hodgkin disease.

I am HIV positive

People who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have an increased risk of developing Hodgkin disease.

If you believe you are at risk for Hodgkin disease, talk with your health care provider. Find out what symptoms to watch for, and ask how often you should schedule regular checkups for the disease.

What can I do if I’m at risk for Hodgkin disease?

If you have any of the factors that put you at risk for Hodgkin disease, what can you do? The best thing is to try to avoid the risks that you can.

Unfortunately, most of the known risk factors for Hodgkin disease, such as age, gender, and family history, can't be avoided. It's not possible to prevent infection with EBV at this time. Although there are steps you can take to lower your risk for HIV infection, it doesn't play a role in most cases of Hodgkin disease. Ask your health care provider if there are things you can do to lower your risk for Hodgkin disease.