Causes and prevention of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)

The exact cause of CML is unknown. But there are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease.

These include:

  • Age: CML occurs mainly in people over the age of 45.
  • Philadelphia chromosome: CML is not caused by an inherited faulty gene but most people with CML have an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. This chromosome makes an enzyme called tyrosine kinase that can lead to CML.
  • Exposure to radiation: If you are exposed to very high radiation levels like in a nuclear accident, it can increase your risk.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Long-time exposure to the chemical benzene can increase your risk.
  • Previous cancer treatments: If you have been treated with radiotherapy before, it can increase your risk.

Remember CML is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people. If you feel you may be at risk, first talk to your family doctor (GP) about your concerns. He or she may advise you to visit a specialist.

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm