Risk Factors

Unfortunately, most cases of leukemia cannot be prevented, because there is no known causes of lymphoma. There are only possible risk factors.

A risk factor is something that increases a person's chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person's age, can't be changed. But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. Even if a person has a risk factor and gets cancer, it is often very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.

Risk factors for acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

  • Smoking
    Smoking is a proven risk factor for AML. Many people know that smoking is linked to cancers of the lungs, mouth, and throat. But few know that it can also affect cells that do not come into direct contact with smoke. Cancer-causing substances in tobacco smoke get into the bloodstream and spread to many parts of the body.
  • Chemicals
    Exposure to certain chemicals has been linked to acute leukemia. For instance, long-term exposure to high levels of benzene is a risk factor for AML.
  • Radiation
    Exposure to a high dose of radiation is a risk factor for AML. The risk of leukemia from lower levels of radiation, such as from radiation treatment, x-rays, or CT scans, is not clear.
  • Certain blood problems
    Patients with certain blood problems seem to be at a higher risk for getting AML. If your body makes too many red cells or not enough platelets, for instance, this may raise your risk.
  • Congenital (present at birth) syndromes
    AML does not appear to be an inherited disease. There are some syndromes with genetic changes that seem to raise the risk of AML. These include: Down syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, Ataxia-telangiectasia, Blackfan-Diamond syndrome.
  • Identical twin with AML
    Having an identical twin with AML is a risk factor. This risk is mostly in the first year of life.
  • Gender
    AML is more common in males than in females. The reasons for this are not clear.

Source: American Cancer Society - What are the risk factors for acute myeloid leukemia?.

Risk factors for acute lymphocytic leukemia

Since most people with acute lymphocytic leukemia don't have any known risk factors that can be changed, there is no way to prevent leukemia at this time.

Source: American Cancer Society - Can acute lymphocytic leukemia be prevented?.

Risk factors for chronic myeloid leukemia

There is no known way to prevent most cases of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Many types of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle changes to avoid certain risk factors, but this is not true for most cases of CML. A few cases may be linked to high doses of radiation, but again, this is rare.

Source: American Cancer Society - Leukemia--Chronic Myeloid (Myelogenous) Overview

Risk factors for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Many types of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle changes to avoid certain risk factors, but there are very few known risk factors for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and most of these cannot be avoided. Most CLL patients have no known risk factors, so there is no way to prevent these cancers.

Source: American Cancer Society - Leukemia--Chronic Lymphocytic.

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