skip navigation
Health EffectsEnvironmental HazardsTopics A-ZTopics A-ZPublicationsResourcesFrequently Asked QuestionsAbout Us
NH Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (also called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, NHL, or just lymphoma) is a group of cancers that start in lymphoid tissue (also called lymph or lymphatic tissue). Other types of cancer (lung or colon cancers, for example) can start in other organs and then spread to lymphoid tissue. But these cancers are not lymphomas. Lymphomas start in the lymphoid tissue and can then spread to other organs. There are two main types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma, and all other types of lymphoma called non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The cells of these two types of cancer look different under a microscope, but in some cases, special laboratory tests may be needed to tell them apart.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and the Environment

The causes of Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are mostly unknown. Specific viruses, immune deficiency, and specific autoimmune conditions have been implicated in increased risk. However, some environmental factors, including exposures to pesticides and solvents, are also being investigated.

Exposure and Risk

Most patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphomas have no known risk factors; however, a few risk factors that may make a person more likely to get Non-Hodgkin lymphomas have been determined. These factors include:

Reduce Your Risk

Most people who have Non-Hodgkin lymphomas have no known risk factors, and the cause of their cancer is unknown. The best way to prevent this cancer is to reduce known risk factors, such as reducing the spread of HIV, which causes AIDS. HIV is spread among adults usually through sex or sharing contaminated needles by IV drug users. Treating AIDS with new anti-HIV drugs appears to reduce the risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

By exploring the relationship between Helicobacter pylori and lymphoma, some methods to prevent Non-Hodgkin lymphomas may be discovered. More research is needed to discover these possibilities.

Doctors are also exploring cancer treatment and organ transplant methods that reduce the risk of lymphoma. However, in the case of life-threatening diseases, the risk of acquiring lymphoma later must be balanced against the immediate need to treat the critical disease.

Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services
29 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-4988 800-852-3345 ext.4988

copyright 2009. State of New Hampshire