Who's most at risk?
While the cause of the initial mutation that triggers non-Hodgkin lymphoma is unknown, a number of factors can increase your risk of developing the condition.
These include having:
- a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as HIV
- medical treatment that weakens your immune system – for example, taking medication to suppress your immune system after an organ transplant
- an autoimmune condition (a condition caused by problems with the immune system), such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Sjögren's syndrome
- been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus – a common virus that causes glandular fever
- been infected with the human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
- a Helicobacter pylori infection – a common bacterial infection that usually infects the lining of the stomach and small intestine
- received chemotherapy or radiotherapy for an earlier cancer
- coeliac disease – an adverse reaction to gluten that causes inflammation of the small bowel
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma isn't infectious and isn't thought to run in families, although your risk may be slightly increased if a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) has had lymphoma.
It can occur at any age, but a third cases are diagnosed in people over 75 and the condition is slightly more common in men than women.