Link Between NHL & Epstein Barr Virus/Mononucleosis (Glandular Fever)?

I was diagnosed with DLBCL 3A on 10th December, 2010. I feel that there may be a strong link between having suffered from Mononucleosis/Glandular Fever which is caused by contracting the Epstein Barr Virus and having NHL later in life.

Because I suffered such a chronic case of Mono, I wonder now if there is a connection. I know that there have been some studies undertaken but no definitive answer has been reached.

I would be interested to know if anyone else diagnosed with NHL has also suffered from Mono at some stage in their lives.

Looking forward to hearing from you if you have also considered that there maybe a link.


Hi Kate-
Sry 'bout yer're in wonderful company here...lots of ears to listen to you, and collectively educated on this chronic disease we call Lymphoma. Ross, our terrific moderator fills in any blanks.
I never had mono, although I was always 'tired'. When I was DX, my Dr. said I had the Lymphoma for at least a few years. Looking back, I NEVER HAD A NORMAL COLD. While most people have colds that go away in a week or two, mine would just get rolling after a couple of weeks, and I would to be very congested, and so much post nasal drip COUGHING, sometimes for a month or two. So I have wondered if my immune system has always been a tad weird, and those naughty cancer cells snuck in when my immune system was napping.
I think your theory has merit.... I believe that my immune system was always compromised, as yours would be if you had so much mono. Just my theory, but does anyone else have a better explanation?

Thanks Geri for your welcoming words.

Since my DX I have looked back over the last few years and patricianly these past 12 months concerning health issues. In retrospect my Dx helps explain why these certain health issues arose.

Back in April, 2010 I had shoulder surgery which required a long recovery period. Then in June, 2010 I had a minute graze on my left shin which turned into a leg ulcer and took weeks and weeks to heal. The nurse that was doing the dressings every day couldn’t understand why a person of my age would be suffering from a leg ulcer, I am 48.

After that I had a sinus infection which took me weeks to get over. Then there was just the general feeling of feeling not quite right and always so tired.

The penny finally dropped when I developed a tooth abscess and my glands in my right neck were also swollen. After that was cleared my glands still would not subside, hence my Dx. I also had severe back and rib pain which I could not account any physical reason for. I am not sure if this is because the cancer has also spread to my bone marrow. I asked the Dr that question but he said that it shouldn’t cause bone pain. I am not so sure about that.

So Geri have you now finished your treatment? Did you have RCHOP and are you now considered to be in remission?


offhand I can tell you that there's a reasonable link that's been made between EBV, or human herpesvirus 4, and at least a pair of subtypes of NHL, a rare one known as primary CNS lymphoma and another, Burkitt's lymphoma (which is a close relative of DLBCL). The problem is just how prevalent EBV is; I should call my brother first and verify this but I'm pretty confident in saying that EBV could be found in a staggering percentage of the adult population, something approaching 90-95%. Since the virus is dormant in a lot of these people, the suspicion is that in a select few, it can be kicked out of this dormant state in adulthood and compromise the immune system.

Yet while it has been implicated in the aforementioned cancers, it's a stretch for anyone to say that there is a direct causal relationship. In other words, as is the case with most cancers, it is probably a confluence of events, a perfect storm of sorts, and not just one major thing.

Thanks Ross. What you say makes a lot of sense and I understand that it is far more complex in the scheme of things.

As you say ‘it is probably a confluence of events’ and that’s basically what I was trying to get at. I also don’t believe there is any one contributing factor but a serious of events that somehow occur in our bodies over a period of time. I also believe that those events and the way they formulate themselves are influenced by other factors such as the environment, diet and stress.

I guess when you have cancer you are always looking for answers but ultimately you have to focus on the here and now. There is hopefully a light at the end of the tunnel!

Kate x

I agree its' the combination of seemingly randon events and circumstance and exposures that lead to an illness' DX. I agree. But i also think that some of these events may be indicators in hindsight. So easy to see it a connection after the fact. And also-that mind-body thing?
Sometimes, in the depths of my memory I remember learning about the astrological signs. My b-day is on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, I'm a Summer Soltice baby. In my young mind. I immediatley determined I was Gemini because I did not even want anything to do with Cancer associated with me. Yep. sometimes, when I am low, I think about that, and if i made it a self fulfilling prophecy. Then I laugh because...well I just do. :)

I don't recall having mono but I used to have strep throat a lot when I was growing up. If someone even mentioned the word 'strep' I would get it! My dad said that I had scarlet fever when I was about 7 yrs old. Also, seems like I did have the mumps when I was a child, I remember my neck being swollen.

Hi Pumpkin,

I also had scarlet fever and mumps as a child, among the many other things.

All of this childhood stuff has made me think about subsequent generations that have had the benefit of science and had immunisations for most of those childhood illnesses for which we contracted.

I know whenever my mother heard that someone had any of those viruses she would deliberately allow us to become infected. I guess her way of thinking was to just let’s get it over and done with as she had 3 of us under the age of 4.

Speaking of immunisations, I wonder if in years to come if there will be a reduction or increase in these types of cancers. At present I believe there has been an increase in the number of lymphomas diagnosed each year.

Something to ponder about I suppose.

Kate x

Good points. You may be right about the increase of lymphomas, but it also may be an issue of reporting bias. I think the most important events relating to what you're talking about that occurred in 2010 are 1) the sequencing of the genome of a tongue tumor in Canada that turned out to resemble renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer), hinting that cancer is molecular, not anatomical; 2) the discovery that pancreatic cancer appears to be developing within the patient for as long as 20 years before it's discovered, suggesting that maybe a test could identify people with the cancer before it's stage IV and too late, and 3) the arrival of cancer vaccines. Yes they've kind of been around, but Provenge (as much as I think it's disgusting how much it costs) along with vaccines like Gardisil. I'm a firm believer in the viral theory of cancer development, and think that prevention is the cure. I think we'll see a therapeutic (not preventive) vaccine for follicular lymphoma hit the market by early 2012 at the latest, and I hope for a cascade effect after that.

In sum, to address your question, I think that in some form, immunization will play an enormous part in prevention down the road, albeit in ways we can't quite predict yet.

That said, if people stopped smoking, 85% of lung cancers would disappear, and when you consider that about 220,000 total lung cancers are diagnosed each year, that's huge.

Hello to all,Good points all around.Geri the same for me when getting a cold or illness.I worked in the cleaning field for years but in my younger days an electronic plant where we ran our circuit boards through a flux machine for cleaning.We always had to put on aprons and gloves and there were many signs around of warnings about the chemicals.When I first got sick, they said I had some sort of virus.Can't remember what but do remember them saying should the lymph nodes not go down to get rechecked for cancer.A year something later I did go get checked late 1994 and to my surprise here we are.I think it's the chemicals but,everything has chemicals in them.Our food ,water,cleaning products.Take care,Michele

Regarding potential environmental causes of lymphoma, check this blog entry I did a while back, the excerpts are taken from a very reliable source.

Hi all, is it possible one type of Lymphoma is caused by chemicals and another by stress, and another by virus etc? Could the cause be what is creating and dividing the twenty something types? If we did a graph and listed past events, jobs, etc. would we see a pattern which resulted into why we fall into our dx? Just wondering....Kathy

Good point,I’m sure it’s likely a combination of things.Just look at treatments,same type,stage etc.but one doctor treats differently then another.Understanding some docs.make up the treatment plan to suit the patient but,some don’t.So is this why some patients die while others live?Is it our lifestyles or where we live {who knows}.Have a good day,Michele

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This must have fell from the virtual sky like so much floating info surrounding our virtual universe, space junk?

Nice to re read the topic though.
Gma KB

Well, since everything happens for a reason (apparently, even SPAM), I had mono in 1973, as I recall. Carried it ever since. In May, 2008, I developed the symptoms again, plus at least one enlarged node. Shattering the male stereotype, I went immediately to my doctor. Blood tests were done, but they did not test for mono, even though I was exhibiting its symptoms. When I asked, another blood test was done. It revealed that I did, in fact, have active mononucleosis. Doctor did not seem concerned, so I went to my immunologist/ENT doctor, since "I" knew that my immune system had failed. This set in motion a chain of providential events that lead to my being alive today. I never went back to that doctor, or to the first oncologist that wanted to watch & wait. I was stage 4E with PTCL-NOS at that time (with BMI), and the path report said simply, "abnormal cells". Indeed. We know that EB virus is associated with lymphomas, but no causal connection has been determined.

how are you doing now? I just got the call from my family doc that I do show arthritis in my hand, they only xrayed the one. I asked the nurse was it RA? (immune disorder related) She said the X-ray doesn't show type, just that its there. It always amazes me how much research we have to do on our own, not bitter about it, just always surprised.
Take care and thanks for the update, Gma KB

I am approaching the three-year remission mark on a maintenance dose of a newly approved drug. The blessing is that this new drug is suppressing a rare, aggressive T-Cell lymphoma for which there is still no standard treatment. It began with a clinical trial and I remain in the long-term study of the drug. My oncologist, not a religious man, calls it a miracle. I agree.