Is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Hereditary?

There are various causes of lymphoma. The causes are generally the factors that increase the risk of developing lymphoma. Although the hereditary factor does not have a powerful association with development of lymphoma but genetic changes due to radiation or chemicals are found to be important contributors.

Is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Hereditary?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not hereditary. This indicates that the Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not passed on to the next generation. But there is a risk factor of developing lymphoma attached to those people who close relatives have a history of lymphoma. The risk of developing lymphoma in such people is increased by 3-9 times as compared to the other people who do not have their close relative suffering from lymphoma. The rate of occurrence of the lymphoma in the people is approximately 2 out of 100000 and the people have higher risk due to hereditary reasons have the occurrence rate of 6 to 8 out of 100000. This is quite a low rate and thus the risk of developing lymphoma to the close relative of patient is low. The close relative includes sibling, parent or child.

According to some researchers, the Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk may either be due to heredity or due to the people living in the similar environment and following almost similar lifestyle. Further, the close relatives share similar genes and the chances of contracting lymphoma may be due to the similar response to some causative agents such as Epstein-Barr Virus. It has also seen that the risk is higher to a person with the twin suffering from this disease. It has been estimated that there is 100-fold increased risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in monozygotic twins compared with dizygotic twins. The recent studies examined the genetic susceptibility of the disease and found that there are certain lymphoma genes and non-lymphoma genes that are responsible for the hereditary nature of this disease.

It has also been shown that the function of immune system and the occurrence of antigen are the critical features when it comes to associating hereditary risk to lymphoma. The identified hereditary gene loci may help in finding the probable cause of the disease. Further it will also help in administering the treatment to the patient which is highly effective with lesser side effects. This will help in altering the prognosis of the disease and make the way for a favorable outcome.

Causes Of Hodgkin’s lymphoma

The cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is largely unknown. There are certain factors which, either in isolation or in combination, may increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is also unknown whether a factor when present in one person causes lymphoma while the other person with the similar factor does not contracts the disease. This may probably be due to the response of the body towards that factor and genetic make-up.

Following are the factors that increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • Genetic Changes: Changes in the information stored in the cell to divide or apoptosis increases the risk of developing cancer. This may be due to radiation or chemicals.
  • Viral Infection: Epstein-Barr virus is one of the main reasons and the factor of high risk for developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other viruses increasing the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitis C virus.
  • Autoimmune Disease: These diseases are also responsible for lymphoma. The patients with diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are at high risk.
  • Inflammation: Chronic inflammation leads to highly active immune system which may lead to developing lymphoma.
  • Bacterial Infection: Bacteria are also responsible for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bacteria carrying high risk for lymphoma include Helicobacter pylori, Chlamydia psittaci, Campylobacter jejuni, and Borrelia burgdorferi.


Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not a hereditary disease i.e. it does not pass from one generation to another. However, the risk is high in those people who have their close relatives suffering from lymphoma. The reasons for this are unknown but some believe that this may either be due to similar genetic profile or due to leading a similar lifestyle. Recent researches have shown that there are certain lymphoma genes and non-lymphoma genes present.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2021

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