Am I at Risk for Hodgkin's 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 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 doctor 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.

Scientists think that in about 5 percent of cases a defective gene might cause Hodgkin disease. If you have a brother or sister who has had Hodgkin disease, this defective gene may run in your family.

I have Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

EBV is a viral infection that causes mononucleosis or "mono." Studies in developing countries show people who are infected with this virus may have a slightly higher risk of getting Hodgkin disease. Studies in the U.S. have not shown as clear a link. 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 virous that causes AIDS, have an increased risk of developing Hodgkin disease.

If you believe you are at risk for Hodgkin disease, talk with your doctor. Find out what symptoms to watch for, and ask how often you should schedule regular check-ups for the disease.

Medical Reviewer: [Alteri, Rick MD, Fincannon, Joy RN MN, Foster, Sara M. RN, MPH, Moore-Higgs, Giselle ARNP, MSN, AOCN, Portlock, Carol MD] Last Annual Review Date: 2010-11-20T00:00:00-07:00 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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