Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Risk Factors for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

No one knows the exact causes of acute lymphocytic leukemia, and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get ALL and another person will not. However, leukemia research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop acute lymphocytic leukemia. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Adult acute lymphocytic leukemia risk factors include:
  • Being male
  • Being white
  • Being older than 70 years of age
  • Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Exposure to atomic bomb radiation
  • Having a certain genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome.
Risk factors for childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia can include:
  • Having a brother or sister with leukemia
  • Being Caucasian or Hispanic
  • Living in the United States
  • Being exposed to x-rays before birth
  • Being exposed to radiation
  • Past treatment with chemotherapy or other drugs that weaken the immune system
  • Having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome.
(Click Cause of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia for more information about the causes of ALL.)


Like all blood cells, leukemia cells travel through the body. Depending on the number of abnormal cells and where these cells collect, patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia may have a number of symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia.
(Click Symptoms of ALL for more information about acute lymphocytic leukemia symptoms.)
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