Objective: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) encompasses diverse subtypes, and analyzing NHL as a single outcome may mask associations. In a new approach we evaluated associations with subtypes defined by the t(14;18) translocation, reasoning that cases within these subtypes would have more common risk factors than all NHL combined.
Methods: Archival biopsies from cases in a population-based NHL study were assayed for t(14;18) using polymerase chain reaction amplification. Exposures in 68 t(14;18)-positive and 114-negative cases were compared with 1245 controls. The expectation-maximization algorithm was used to fit polytomous regression models based on all available information, including data from 440 unclassified cases.
Results: Family history of hemolymphatic cancer was associated with t(14;18)-negative NHL (odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4 3.9). but not t(14;18)-positive NHL. Cigarette smoking was weakly associated with t(14;18)-positive NHL (OR 1.7, CI 0.9-3.3), but ORs decreased as smoking increased. Chewing tobacco was associated with t(14;18)-positive NHL, particularly when used before age 18 (OR 2.5. CI 1.0-6.0, 13 exposed cases). Odds ratios for both case-subtypes were doubled among hair-dye users.
Conclusions: Cigarette smoking was not clearly associated with t(14;18)-positive NHL. Family history may be a marker for factors that act specifically through t(14;18)-negative pathogenic mechanisms.