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Who gets lymphoma and what causes it?
Anyone can get either Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), at any age, but NHL mainly affects people over the age of 60.
In most cases we don’t know what causes it. However , you are more likely to get NHL if your immune system isn’t working normally – for example if you have HIV (although the majority of patients diagnosed with NHL do not have HIV), or if you have taken drugs called immunosuppressants, for example after an organ transplant.
Researchers are trying to find out more about the causes of lymphoma. They are currently looking at whether there may be environmental causes, or whether some types of lymphoma may be linked to viruses. This does not mean that you can catch lymphoma, but that some people may get lymphoma after they have had a virus, because of the way their body has responded to it.
At the moment we don’t know of anything you can do to prevent either type of lymphoma.
How does the cancer spread?
Lymphomas spread to nearby lymph nodes, and then to nodes further away through the lymphatic system.
Later it can spread to the bone marrow and to body organs such as the liver, stomach and bowel.