Factors that may increase your risk of acute myelogenous leukemia include:

  • Increasing age. The risk of acute myelogenous leukemia increases with age. Acute myelogenous leukemia is most common in adults age 65 and older.
  • Your sex. Men are more likely to develop acute myelogenous leukemia than are women.
  • Previous cancer treatment. People who've had certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy may have a greater risk of developing AML.
  • Exposure to radiation. People exposed to very high levels of radiation, such as survivors of a nuclear reactor accident, have an increased risk of developing AML.
  • Dangerous chemical exposure. Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene, is linked to greater risk of AML.
  • Smoking. AML is linked to cigarette smoke, which contains benzene and other known cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Other blood disorders. People who've had another blood disorder, such as myelodysplasia, polycythemia vera or thrombocythemia, are at greater risk of developing AML.
  • Genetic disorders. Certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are associated with an increased risk of AML.

Many people with AML have no known risk factors, and many people who have risk factors never develop the cancer.

Sep. 15, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.