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There are many kinds of leukemia. Leukemias are part of a bigger group of diseases, the blood cancers (hematological neoplasms). Without treatment, leukemia may lead to death within weeks, months, or years. How long the person lives depends on the kind of leukemia.
Four major types
For this reason, all of the different forms of leukemia are divided into four main types:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia. It is common in young children but can also be seen in old people.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is usually seen in people over the age of 55. Children almost never have this.
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is seen more commonly in adults than in children.
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) happens mostly in adults.
Causes and risk factors
The causes of most types of leukemia are not known. In general, all cancers have a breakdown in the normal way cell division is controlled. Most likely, the different kinds of leukemias have different causes. The known causes account for relatively few cases. Most of the causes are outside our control.
Researchers believe that some things may influence whether a person develops leukemia:
- Exposure to Ionizing radiation
- Exposure to certain chemicals, for example benzene.
- Certain viruses
- Treatment with certain drugs that influence how cells develop; e.g. treatment of a tumor; Chemotherapy
- Certain genetic factors.
Viruses that are believed to cause leukemia include:
- "WHO Disease and injury country estimates". World Health Organization. 2009. http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates_country/en/index.html. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Leukemia". National Cancer Institute. 2011. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/leuks.html#incidence-mortality. ""Approximately 10.8% were diagnosed under age 20""
- Ross J.A. et al (2002). "Diet and risk of leukemia in the Iowa Women's Health Study". Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 11 (8): 777–81. . http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/11/8/777.long.