Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. Health experts predict more than 80,000 U.S. people will receive a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in 2022.

The exact cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma isn’t known, but there’s evidence that it can run in families. Researchers are currently investigating possible inherited gene mutations that might cause non-Hodgkin’s to develop.

At this time, there’s not enough information to say exactly which genes are linked to non-Hodgkin’s or to use genetic information for predictive testing. Keep reading to find out what scientists have learned so far.

Most people who develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma do not have a family member who has had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

However, some evidence suggests this type of lymphoma can run in families. People with a first degree relative, like a parent or sibling, who have had non-Hodgkin’s have a higher risk of developing it themselves.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma develops when there’s a mutation in the DNA of your lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell.

It’s not clear exactly what causes these mutations, but research has found they can be inherited. Research into the genetic component of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is ongoing.

At this time, it’s not clear exactly which genes can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Additionally, the genes currently identified have been found in people who have already had non-Hodgkin’s.

This means it’s difficult to say whether those genes would have had mutations before cancer developed. It also means scientists aren’t yet able to use genetic links to predict non-Hodgkin’s.

What genes are associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

Although researchers don’t believe they have identified every gene that might be linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there are several known genes associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They include:

  • ASP10
  • ATM
  • BRAF
  • CARD11
  • CASP10
  • EP300
  • EZH2
  • MEF2B
  • MLL2
  • PRF1
  • RAD54B
  • RAD54L
  • TRAF2

Researchers are looking at several other genes for a possible genetic link to non-Hodgkin’s. Additional studies are needed before these links can be proven.

Studies are also currently looking into which genes might be connected with various subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s. Finding genes associated with subtypes might help scientists better understand the overall link between genetics and non-Hodgkin’s.

There are many known risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Having multiple risk factors increases the likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin’s. But that doesn’t mean everyone with multiple risk factors will develop non-Hodgkin’s. It simply means the risk is higher.

Risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • A family history: People with a parent, child, or sibling who has had non-Hodgkin’s have a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s themselves.
  • Sex: The overall risk of non-Hodgkin’s is higher for males, but females have a higher risk of some subtypes.
  • Age: Most cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are diagnosed in people over age 60. However, there are some subtypes that are more common in people under 60.
  • Ethnicity: White Americans have the highest risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States.
  • A weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems, or who take immunosuppressant medications, have a higher risk.
  • Radiation exposure: Exposure to radiation, including radiation used to treat previous cancer, increases the risk.
  • Certain infections: Some viral infections, including HIV and the Epstein-Barr virus, are linked to a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Autoimmune conditions: Certain autoimmune conditions are associated with a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s, including:
  • Previous chemotherapy treatment: Receiving chemotherapy treatment for a previous cancer is known to increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s.

Other possible risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including exposure to certain chemicals and body weight, are still being researched.

Although the link between overweight and obesity and non-Hodgkin’s hasn’t been proven, the American Cancer Society recommends maintaining a moderate weight as a way to reduce your risk of multiple types of cancer.

Currently, there’s no standard genetic test available for lymphoma, including non-Hodgkin’s.

Medical researchers haven’t found enough data on the genetics of lymphoma to make concrete associations with any particular gene. Although some genes have been identified, researchers don’t know enough about them or about how they work to use them in genetic testing.

However, tests are being developed and might be available in the future.

Get involved

If you’d like to help advance what we know about non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, check out to see their database on ongoing trials for this cancer.

Make sure to discuss joining any trials with your primary doctor before they start, especially if joining would involve any changes to your treatment regimen.

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Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can sometimes run in families. People who have a parent, sibling, or child who has had non-Hodgkin’s have a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s than people without a family history. Researchers believe inherited genetic mutations might cause this.

Studies are currently underway to find these genes and develop tests that could identify people who have a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This testing isn’t currently available, but it might be in the near future.