Am I At Risk for Hodgkin's Disease?

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

The best way you can protect yourself from Hodgkin's 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's 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's disease. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get Hodgkin's 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 over the age of 55.

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

I am male.

More men than women get Hodgkin's disease.

Other people in my family have had Hodgkin's disease.

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

I have Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Epstein-Barr is a viral infection that causes mononucleosis or "mono." Studies in developing countries show people who are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may have a slightly higher risk of getting Hodgkin's disease. Studies in the United States have not shown as clear of a link. Scientists are still trying to understand the role EBV may play in Hodgkin's disease.

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

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