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What causes leukemia?

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No one knows exactly what causes leukemia. People who have it have certain abnormal chromosomes, but the chromosomes don’t cause the leukemia.

You can’t really prevent leukemia, but it may be possible that certain things in your environment could trigger the development of it. For example, if you are a tobacco smoker, you are more prone to some types of leukemia than a nonsmoker. It’s also associated with a high amount of radiation exposure and certain chemicals.

Some kinds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy used to treat other cancers can actually cause leukemia. The chance that you’ll develop leukemia depends on the types of chemotherapy drugs used.

Family history is another risk factor for leukemia. For example, if an identical twin gets a certain type of leukemia, there is a 20% chance the other twin will have it within a year.

From: What Is Leukemia? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Learn About Cancer (Detailed Guide): Leukemia -- Acute Lymphocytic," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Acute Myeloid (AML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Myeloid (CML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia in Children."

National Cancer Institute: "Leukemia." "Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version. Treatment Option Overview," "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: "Leukemia."

Cancer.Net: "Understanding Targeted Therapy."

Mayo Clinic: "Leukemia: Treatments and drugs."

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Leukemia Treatment."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on September 26, 2017

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Learn About Cancer (Detailed Guide): Leukemia -- Acute Lymphocytic," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Acute Myeloid (AML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Myeloid (CML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia in Children."

National Cancer Institute: "Leukemia." "Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version. Treatment Option Overview," "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: "Leukemia."

Cancer.Net: "Understanding Targeted Therapy."

Mayo Clinic: "Leukemia: Treatments and drugs."

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Leukemia Treatment."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on September 26, 2017

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