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Causes of Hodgkin's disease

Most workers in the field have observed a higher incidence in the young adult population afflicted in countries of higher socio-economic development whereas the incidence in older patients does not seem to follow this pattern and may obey the converse pattern (i.e. be more common in areas of lesser socio-economic development).

 

Males are affected by the disease more commonly than females and in the ratio of 1.4:1.

 

No one causative agent has been identified but interest in a possible viral trigger is still very much discussed with the EB virus as the agent under closest scrutiny. Patients with a history of past EB virus related mononucleosis have a higher incidence of later Hodgkin's disease and EB virus is detectable within the RS cells in at least 50% of cases of the disease, particularly those with mixed cellularity Hodgkin's disease. However, the fact that the virus is not detectable in all cases infers that the situation is more complex than a simple infection trigger alone.

 

There is a slight familial tendency of developing the disease but whether this necessarily implies a genetic factor is also a topic of debate (as shared environment is also a factor that cannot be dismissed amongst families)


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