Date: 07 May 2003

Epidemiology of Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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Abstract

This review considers in detail the descriptive and aetiological epidemiology of Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), with attention to histological subcategories when the literature allows. The aetiology of Hodgkin's disease remains only partially understood. There is evidence that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be involved in the causation of some cases, and clinical immune deficiency is a risk factor for a few, but the evidence is not entirely consistent and other factors may also be important in causing the EBV-associated cases of Hodgkin's disease. The cause of EBV-unassociated cases remains obscure. For NHL, although it has been shown that some cases are related to immune deficiency and chronic antigenic stimulation, and especially to EBV in the context of immune deficiency, the causation of the majority of cases remains unknown. The increasing incidence of NHL, other than that related to AIDS, is also essentially unexplained. Epidemiological investigation of the aetiology of NHL and Hodgkin's disease is making steady progress, however, and there remain leads to be followed that may result in a better understanding and hence prevention.