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Etiology of acute leukemia

Most often the etiology is unknown; however, a few etiological factors are known.  

  • For identical twins, the risk for developing leukemia for the other twin is significantly higher if one of them develops the disease.
  • High doses of radiation in utero.
  • Certain hereditary diseases/syndromes are more susceptible to leukemia. Examples are: Down's syndrome, Fanconi's anemia, and ataxia telangiectasia. 
  • Of environmental factors, there is discussion of electromagnetic fields (power lines) and neonatal exposure of pesticides. 
  • There is evidence for a two level mutation model in the immune system provoked by viral and/or bacterial infections. This would explain the peak between 2 and 5 years.


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