There is really no way to know for sure if you're going to get non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Certain factors can make you more likely to get it than another person. However, having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will get lymphoma. In fact, you can have all the risk factors and still not get it. Or you can have no known risk factors and still get it.

Some risk factors are out of your control, such as age or ethnicity. However, you do have control over some risk factors, such as exposure to certain infections.

If you agree with any of the following bolded statements, you may be at an increased risk for lymphoma. Each time you agree with the statement, ask yourself if you are doing all you can to control that risk factor. If you have several risk factors, especially if they're ones you can't control, learn about the symptoms of lymphoma so that you'll know what to watch for.

I am older than age 60.

The average age of people with lymphoma occurs in their 60s.

I've been exposed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Infection with HIV is the most preventable cause of immune deficiency. This weakness in your immune system increases your risk of developing lymphoma. There are important things you can do to prevent HIV. One is to practice safe sex. The other is to avoid contaminated needles used for recreational IV drugs. If you have AIDS, treatment will most likely help lower your chance of developing lymphoma.

I've been exposed to Epstein-Barr virus.

This is a virus that causes infectious mononucleosis. Researchers think the link between this virus and lymphoma may be explained by an immune deficiency that allows both problems to develop. However, this is thought to be a rare occurrence.

I have a history of infection with Helicobacter pylori. Or I have a history of long-term stomach ulcers.

Recently, researchers discovered a link between this infection with Helicobacter pylori and primary gastric (stomach) lymphomas. However, detecting and treating this infection is difficult. That's because it often causes no symptoms.

I've had previous treatment with chemotherapy or radiation.

Researchers are studying ways to lessen these risks. In the meantime, the benefits of having these treatments still outweigh the risks of not having them.

I've had an organ transplant.

If you've received a new organ, such as a kidney, you were given drugs to keep your T cells from rejecting the new organ. Because T-cell production is kept low, the risk for lymphoma increases. The risk varies with the kind of drug used. If you've had, or will have, an organ transplant, be sure to ask your doctor what you can do to lower your risk for lymphoma.

I've been exposed to pesticides and chemicals, such as benzene, for a long time.

These substances are linked to an increased risk for lymphoma. Benzene is a chemical used in making gasoline, plastics, rubber, and adhesives, among other products. Shoe and leather workers, painters, refinery workers, and printers may also come into contact with this chemical. Farm workers are often exposed to pesticides. If you work with substances such as these, make sure you follow the guidelines for working with them safely.

I have an inherited immune system problem.

Problems with your immune system increase your chances of developing lymphoma. People who have a history of autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjogren's syndrome, are at increased risk. Although genetically related immune system problems can be passed from one generation to another, a higher risk for lymphoma itself cannot.

I've been exposed to high levels of radiation.

People who have survived an atomic attack or a nuclear accident have a higher chance of getting many cancers, including lymphoma.

I have hepatitis C.

Research shows that people infected with hepatitis C are more likely to develop certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Researchers believe this may be true because the infection stimulates the immune system for a long time.

Medical Reviewer: [Dezube, Bruce MD, Fincannon, Joy RN MN, Moore-Higgs, Giselle ARNP, MSN, AOCN, Richard Alteri, MD, Sara M. Foster, RN, MPH] Last Annual Review Date: 2010-11-17T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: © 2007 CancerSource, 280 Summer Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02210. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

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