2. Epidemiology and Etiology of Leukemias

  1. Stefan Faderl MD Associate Professor and
  2. Hagop Kantarjian MD Chairman Professor
  1. Andrew Fletcher MBChB, MRCPCH1,
  2. Annika Whittle Specialist2 and
  3. David Bowen Consultant Haematologist Honorary Professor2

Published Online: 4 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444327359.ch2

Leukemias: Principles and Practice of Therapy

Leukemias: Principles and Practice of Therapy

How to Cite

Fletcher, A., Whittle, A. and Bowen, D. (2010) Epidemiology and Etiology of Leukemias, in Leukemias: Principles and Practice of Therapy (eds S. Faderl and H. Kantarjian), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444327359.ch2

Editor Information

  1. Department of Leukemia, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Pediatric Hematology, St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK

  2. 2

    St. James's Institute of Oncology, Leeds, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 JAN 2011
  2. Published Print: 26 NOV 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405182355

Online ISBN: 9781444327359



  • Etiology;
  • leukemia;
  • demographics;
  • epidemiology;
  • myeloid;
  • lymphoid;
  • therapy-related;
  • in utero;
  • radiation;
  • benzene


Leukemias are rare malignant disorders with considerable biologic diversity. Despite the unraveling of the biologic basis for many leukemias, the etiology of most remains unclear. The demographics of leukemias vary, although most are more common with increasing age. Exceptions include a peak of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood and essential thrombocythemia in young adult females. Therapy-related myelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemia occurring after exposure to chemotherapy is the best characterized etiologic insult leading to leukemia, and polymorphic variation in DNA repair capacity may underlie at least a proportion of such cases. Radiation and benzene exposure have also been implicated in myeloid leukemias, and an infectious or immune dysregulatory insult is suggested to cause at least some cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, where the initiating event may occur in utero.