Leukemia Awareness and Prevention
Leukemia occurs most often in adults older than 55, but it is also the most common cancer in children younger than 15. At UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, we’re focused on early detection of leukemia, which can be critical to successful treatment and management.
The following risk factors can sometimes play a role in the development of leukemia. However, some patients with leukemia won’t have any of these risk factors:
- Previous cancer treatment: Chemotherapy and radiation can increase the risk of leukemia.
- Tobacco: Smoking can increase the risk of some types of leukemia.
- Genetic disorders: Some disorders, such as Down syndrome, can play a role in leukemia development.
- Chemical exposure: Long-term exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals can be linked to leukemia.
- Family history of leukemia: A person’s risk for leukemia can be increased if a family member has been diagnosed.
Symptoms of Leukemia
Slow-growing types of leukemia, such as chronic myeloid leukemia, often have no symptoms. However, acute types of leukemia can cause signs and symptoms that include:
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue and weakness
- Frequent infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Tiny red spots on the skin
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
These symptoms are often vague and can resemble the flu, so it’s important for patients to be aware of changes in their body and make an appointment to see their doctor if they have any concerns.
There is no known way to prevent leukemia, but avoiding tobacco and exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals might help.