Studies are still evaluating the factors accountable for causing acute myeloid leukemia, thereby devising ways to prevent these diseases. Since most people with acute myeloid leukemia do not have known risk factors, there is no way to prevent most AML cases. Smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for AML. And so, quitting offers the most excellent chance to reduce the risk of AML. Treating other cancers with chemotherapy or radiation may cause some secondary (treatment-related) leukemias. However, doctors are trying to treat these cancers without raising the risk of secondary leukemia. Avoiding known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene might lower the risk of developing AML.
Prevention of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
It is unclear what causes most cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Since most people having AML do not have known risk factors, there is no way to prevent most cases of AML.
Smoking is by far the most important controllable risk factor for AML, and quitting offers the greatest chance to reduce the risk of AML 1. People who do not smoke are also less likely to develop many other cancers and stroke, heart disease, and some other diseases than people who do.
Treating other cancers with chemotherapy or radiation may cause some people secondary (treatment-related) leukemias. Doctors are trying to know how to treat these cancers without raising the risk of secondary leukemia. But for now, the obvious benefits of treating life-threatening cancers with radiation and chemotherapy must be balanced against the slight chance of getting leukemia years later.
Avoiding known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene might lower the risk of developing AML 2. But most experts agree that exposure to environmental and workplace chemicals seems to account for only a tiny portion of leukemias.
- 1.Leotta S, Condorelli A, Sciortino R, et al. Prevention and Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Relapse after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: The State of the Art and Future Perspectives. JCM. Published online January 4, 2022:253. doi:10.3390/jcm11010253
- 2.Oran B, de Lima M. Prevention and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia relapse after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Current Opinion in Hematology. Published online November 2011:388-394. doi:10.1097/moh.0b013e32834b6158