How Do You Get Leukemia?

A risk factor is something that increases or contributes to the cause of disease. Different types of leukemias (blood cancers) have the various risk factors that may include;


Long-term exposure to high levels of radiation can contribute to causing acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.


Tobacco and other types of smoking significantly increases the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

CT scans

Recent research and clinical trials suggest that children who undergo frequent CT scans due to any reason are at higher risk of developing a blood cancer as well as other types of cancer. However, more research is required to confirm these claims.


It is a chemical compound that is present in gasoline and cigarette smoke. It is also used widely in the chemical industry. Exposure to benzene for a long period can cause acute leukemia of myeloid type. Some studies also suggest that it may also cause acute lymphocytic as well as chronic myeloid leukemia.


Chemotherapy is a common type of treatment for most patients with cancers. Studies have confirmed that cancer-fighting drugs can also increase the risk of leukemias.

Chemotherapeutic drugs usually cause acute lymphoblastic and acute myeloid leukemia. For example, topoisomerase inhibitors and alkylating agents are two groups of chemotherapy drugs linked to increasing the risk of leukemias.

Inherited diseases

Congenital abnormalities such as down syndrome and certain other inherited disorders increase the risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia.

Medical history

A previous medical history of blood cancer, such as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), or other blood conditions can increase the likelihood of developing both acute and chronic type of leukemias. People with other blood disorders, including myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, or aplastic anemia, are also linked to an increased risk of developing leukemia.

Viral infections

Human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) is a type of adult T-cell leukemia caused by the HTLV-1 virus. Although this virus may cause leukemia, adult T-cell leukemia and associated types are not contagious.

Family history

It is rarely seen that more than one person in a family has leukemias. However, when it does happen, the most likely type is chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Statistics show that only a few people with chronic lymphocytic or myeloid leukemia have a mother, father, mother, sister, brother, or child who also has the disease.

It doesn’t mean you are going to have leukemia if one or more risk factors are positive in your case.