Leukemia - Acute Lymphoblastic - ALL - Childhood: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Use the menu to see other pages.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do.

Although doctors don’t know what causes most childhood leukemia, some evidence shows that certain genetic factors play a role in ALL.

Children who are born with a condition that has been linked to genetic and immune system problems -- such as Down syndrome, ataxia telangiectasia, or Bloom syndrome -- may have a higher risk of developing leukemia.

A child with an identical twin that develops ALL before age 6 has an increased risk of developing leukemia. If an identical twin develops leukemia within the first few months of life, the other twin will almost always develop the same type of leukemia.

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what changes or medical problems that childhood ALL can cause. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.