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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Causes & Risks


The cause of ALL is unknown. Research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase your chance of developing ALL:

  • Sex: male
  • Race: white
  • Age: children and elderly (adults older than 70)
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment
  • Exposure to atomic bomb radiation or nuclear reactor accident
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals such as benzene (common in agriculture, dye works, and paint manufacturing and use)
  • Certain genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome , Bloom syndrome, Fanconi's anemia, ataxia-telangiectasia, neurofibromatosis , Schwachman syndrome, IgA deficiency, and congenital X-linked agammaglobulinemia

The following risk factors are specific to childhood ALL:

  • Having a brother or sister with leukemia
  • Race: white or Hispanic
  • Living in the United States
  • Exposure to x-rays before birth
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Previous chemotherapy or other treatment that weakens the immune system
  • Certain genetic disorders (see above)

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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