Leukemia - Chronic Myeloid - CML: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing CML. 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 develop cancer. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The cause of CML is not known, though researchers now understand how the disease develops from genetic changes in the bone marrow cells. Environmental factors account for only a small number of CML diagnoses. Family history does not appear to play a role in the development of CML.

The following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing CML:

  • Age. The average age of people diagnosed with CML is around 64. CML is uncommon in children and teens.

  • Radiation exposure. Many people who were long-term survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings in Japan were diagnosed with CML. In addition, radiation therapy for a condition called ankylosing spondylitis has been linked to CML. However, there is no proven link between CML and radiation therapy or chemotherapy given for other types of cancer or other diseases.

  • Gender. Men are somewhat more likely to develop CML than women.

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