A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a certain condition or disease, such as cancer. In adults, lifestyle and environmental factors (such as smoking or exposure to certain chemicals) can be significant risk factors for developing certain types of cancer. In children, very few risk factors have been identified that increase the chance of developing cancer. For most children with cancer, the underlying cause is unknown.
Even if your child has a risk factor, it does not mean they will develop cancer. Many children with a risk factor will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a child with a risk factor develops cancer, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
The causes of Hodgkin disease are not well understood, but factors associated with a higher chance of developing Hodgkin disease include the following:
Children who have a brother or sister – especially a twin – with Hodgkin disease have a higher chance of developing Hodgkin disease themselves.
Certain virus infections
People who have been infected with Epstein–Barr virus (also called glandular fever, infectious mononucleosis or ‘mono’) have a higher chance of developing Hodgkin disease, although this risk is very small.
People who are HIV-positive also have a higher chance of developing Hodgkin disease.