Hodgkin’s disease is less common than non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It accounts for about 11.5% of all lymphomas. According to the American Cancer Society, about 8,500 new cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD) are diagnosed in the United States each year. The exact causes of Hodgkin’s disease are unknown. Research indicates that the malignant process leading to Hodgkin's disease may be triggered by a combination of environmental and genetic factors along with a susceptible immune system.
Age and Gender
Hodgkin's disease occurs most often in people ages 15 - 40 (especially in their 20s), and in people over age 55. About 10 - 15% of Hodgkin’s disease cases are diagnosed in children and teenagers.
Hodgkin's disease is slightly more common among males than females. Women who get Hodgkin's disease appear to have a slightly lower risk for relapse after treatment than men.
Infectious mononucleosis (“mono”), which is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), is linked with increased risk for Hodgkin’s disease. However, only 1 in 1,000 patients with mononucleosis develops Hodgkin's disease. The Epstein-Barr virus is present in 90% of all people and, in the great majority of these cases, the virus causes a mild case of mononucleosis or no illness at all. Only a very small percentage of people who have had mononucleosis go on to develop HD. Other factors must be present to trigger the malignancy.
People infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which weakens the immune system, are also at increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease.
Hodgkin's disease runs in families in about 5% of cases. Siblings of patients have a three times higher risk than the general population.
Review Date: 01/27/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.