Prevention of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Executive Summary

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 leukaemia do not have risk factors that can be changed, there is no known way to prevent most AML cases. Smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for AML, and 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) leukaemias. Doctors are trying to treat these cancers without raising the risk of secondary leukaemia. Avoiding known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene might lower the risk of developing AML.

Prevention of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

It’s unclear what causes most cases of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Since most people having AML don’t have risk factors that can be changed, 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 don’t 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) leukaemias. Doctors are trying to know how to treat these cancers without raising the risk of secondary leukaemia. But for now, the obvious benefits of treating life-threatening cancers with radiation and chemotherapy must be balanced against the slight chance of getting leukaemia 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 leukaemias.

References

  1. 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. 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