Lymphoma Awareness and Prevention

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While the risk factors and causes of lymphoma aren’t yet fully understood, it’s important to be aware of the suspected risk factors, especially for people who have a family history of the disease. 

Risk Factors

For non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), suspected risk factors include:

  • Age, most common in people age 60 or older
  • Ethnicity, with Caucasians having a higher risk of developing NHL than African-Americans and Asian-Americans
  • Exposure to radiation and certain chemicals
  • Immune system deficiency
  • Some autoimmune diseases
  • Infections that weaken the immune system, such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C

Suspected risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) include:

  • Epstein-Barr virus infection/mononucleosis
  • Age, most common in people between ages 15 and 40, particularly those in their 20s
  • Family history
  • HIV infection 

Symptoms of Lymphoma

Some people experience no symptoms during early-stage lymphoma, and the disease is discovered during unrelated medical care or testing. Others do experience symptoms, such as:

  • Painless swelling in one or more lymph nodes, often in the neck, armpit, upper chest, or groin
  • Unexplained or persistent fever, fatigue, or weight loss
  • Drenching sweats, particularly at night
  • Persistent cough or chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal bloating or tenderness due to an enlarged spleen
  • Shortness of breath with normal activity
  • Rashes or lumps on the skin
  • Lymph node pain after drinking alcohol 

Lymphoma doesn’t always start in the lymph nodes; it sometimes originates in sites such as the skin, bones, lungs, or gastrointestinal tract. In those cases, patients might experience symptoms related to those specific areas.

Patients should speak with their doctor if they experience any symptoms of lymphoma.