Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming tissues and is broadly classified into acute or chronic cancer based on the severity of its growth. The condition is also categorized based on whether it affects the myeloid cells or lymphoid cells in the body. While some forms only affect children, other types can develop aggressively in older individuals. Here are the known risk factors for three aggressive forms of leukemia.
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that develops in the spongy tissue of the bone marrow and affects the production of new blood cells. Men over 50 are at a high risk of developing ALL, but the condition can also affect women and children. Studies highlight that ethnicity, geographical location, and genetic syndromes can trigger the disease. Viral infections and exposure to radiation during the treatment of cancer and tumors can also be risk factors. Those working in industrial establishments may be exposed to certain chemicals used to manufacture everyday products; this raises the likelihood of ALL, especially during old age.
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
Acute Myeloid Leukemia is also a form of blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow but mostly affects the production of white blood cells necessary for fighting infections. Age, exposure to radiation or chemicals, and genetic disorders are common risk factors. In addition to that, a history of blood cancer also increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with the condition. For AML, certain predictive risk factors can help determine the risk of relapse after the first diagnosis. These prognostic factors can be further categorized depending on the tests of the chromosomes and genes in the leukemia cells. Individuals with a low chance of relapse are generally classified under the favored category of risk, and those who may or may not relapse are placed in the intermediate-risk category. Patients with a few remission signs are placed in the unfavored risk category, with strong and recurring relapses. The third category makes it difficult for most people to remain in remission due to the aggressive form of cancer.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Cancer (CLL)
Chronic Lymphocytic Cancer is observed in those with a family history of lymph node cancers. Adults above the age of 50 can develop CLL. Ethnicity and the geographical region also play a major role in the cancer’s development; it is usually detected in those of African, European, and Russian descent. Survivors of the Vietnam War—who were exposed to a chemical called Agent Orange—are also at a high risk of being diagnosed with the disease. High levels of lymphocytes in the bone marrow can also lead to this condition. The aggressive form of cancer normally affects the lymph nodes and increases the risk of metastasis.