Causes and risk factors
The exact causes of acute myeloid leukemia have not been discovered yet, though certain risk factors have been shown to predispose patients to the disease. The risk factors associated with AML are:
Age:This disease most commonly affects older adults, and incidence of the disease increases with age (average age at onset is 65 years). The incidence rate of the disease is higher in men than in women, though the reasons for this remain unknown.
Tobacco use: Tobacco use increases the risk of developing AML.
Exposure to chemicals: Cases of AML have been seen following prolonged exposure to benzene.
Previous cancer treatment: Previous treatment with certain cytostatics used in treating a number of cancers is related with an increase in the number of AML cases. These cytostatics include alkylating agents, anthracycline, topoisomerase II inhibitors, purine analogs, and platinum derivatives.
Exposure to radiation: Exposure to high doses of radiation increases the risk of developing AML. In rare cases, AML has been related to previous radiotherapy to treat tumors.
Previous hematological disorders:Patients with a history of myeloproliferative disease (myelofibrosis or thrombocythemia) or myelodysplastic syndrome are at greater risk of developing this kind of leukemia.
Genetic syndromes:Some syndromes such as Down syndrome and congenital diseases like Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, or congenital neutropenia increase the risk of AML.