Cause of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The exact acute lymphocytic leukemia cause has yet to be determined. However, research has shown that the condition is often linked to certain risk factors, such as exposure to radiation, being Caucasian, or having certain genetic disorders. While not actual "causes," these risk factors can increase a person's chance of developing acute lymphocytic leukemia.

What Is the Cause of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia?

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) accounts for about 3,800 new cases of leukemia each year. In most cases, the condition occurs in children (see Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). However, ALL can also occur in adults (see Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Acute lymphocytic leukemia is also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
No one knows the exact cause 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 the disease.

Know the Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Risk factors for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia 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.
Risk factors for adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia include:
  • Being male
  • Being Caucasian
  • 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.
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ALL Leukemia

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