What Are the Risk Factors for Lymphoma?

A risk factor is something that may increase your risk for a disease. Having one or more risk factors does not mean you will develop lymphoma. Most people who have risk factors never develop the disease.

Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors include:

  • Previous infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection — a common virus that causes infectious mononucleosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age: Hodgkin lymphoma occurs most often in early adulthood (between ages 15-40, and especially in the 20s) or late adulthood (after age 55).
  • Family history: About 5% of cases have a family link.
  • Exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service in the Vietnam War

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors include:

  • Age: Most cases occur in people older than 60.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene, herbicides and pesticides, including exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service in the Vietnam War
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Radiation exposure
  • Immune system deficiency and HIV infection
  • Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), or Epstein-Barr virus
  • Chronic infection with HCV — a virus that causes hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver — or Helicobacter pylori.

What are the Symptoms of Lymphoma?