Chronic myelogenous leukemia

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Risk factors for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. Coming into contact with high levels of radiation is the most important risk factor for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

The risk of developing CML increases with age. It usually occurs in people over the age of 65 years. Men develop CML more often than women.

Risk factor

There is convincing evidence that coming into contact with high levels of radiation – for example, radiation from nuclear reactor accidents – is a risk factor for CML.

Possible risk factors

The following factors have been linked with CML, but there is not enough evidence to show for sure that they are risk factors. More research is needed to clarify the role of these factors for CML.

  • breathing in formaldehyde
  • previous radiation therapy
  • overweight or obesity

No link to CML

Significant research shows that there is no link between a family history of CML and a higher risk of CML. There is also no link between breathing in benzene and a higher risk of CML.

Questions to ask your healthcare team

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about risks.

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