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Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming cells that affects both adults and children. Leukemia is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in children and adolescents, and often arises very rapidly over a short period of time (acute form). In adults, leukemia is more likely to take many years to develop (chronic form) and accounts for about 3% of all cancer diagnosed annually. Leukemias are further grouped according to the type of blood cell affected, with major subtypes including lymphocytic and myeloid types. The major childhood leukemias include acute lymphocytic and acute myeloid leukemia, whereas in adults, major subtypes include chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. The causes of leukemia are not well understood, but appear to involve a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.
About 145 new cases of Leukemia were diagnosed in New Mexico year 2013. The rate at which Leukemia is newly diagnosed in New Mexico has remained fairly constant over the past 20 years.
In the U.S., leukemia occurs about one-third more frequently in males than in females. Leukemia can occur at any age, but roughly 75% of cases are diagnosed among persons 50 years and older. Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children, accounting for about 33% of all childhood cancers. Leukemia generally occurs more often among Whites than among persons of other race.
Scientists have not conclusively identified any particular risk factor that accounts for most cases of leukemia. Some known risk factors include:
  • High doses of ionized radiation.
  • Genetic abnormalities, including Down syndrome.
  • Rare viruses.
  • Long-term benzene exposure.
  • Smoking.
You can learn about known and probable carcinogens from Known and Probable Human Carcinogens at (external site).
There are no proven methods or steps to take to prevent most forms of leukemia. Avoiding workplace exposures to chemicals such as benzene and unnecessary radiation may help to reduce a workers risk of leukemia.
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Content updated: Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:26:03 MDT