Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Causes and risk factors

What causes Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

The specific cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unknown. It is possible that a genetic predisposition and exposure to viral infections may increase the risk for developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There is a slightly increased chance for Hodgkin’s lymphoma to occur in siblings and cousins of patients.

There has been much investigation into the association of the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes the infection mononucleosis, as well as with human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Both of these infectious viruses have been correlated with a greater incidence of children diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, although the direct link is unknown.

There are many individuals, however, who have infections related to EBV and HIV that do not develop Hodgkin’s disease.