Annually, nearly 5,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia and there are more than 20,000 individuals living with the condition in the Unites States today. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is one of the four main types of leukemia and is considered a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse as time goes on. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is caused when a specific chromosome in the body, called the Philadelphia chromosome, becomes corrupted.
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The factor that causes the corruption of the Philadelphia chromosome is still largely unknown, although researchers have identified some risk factors that may contribute to the development of the condition. Exposure to radiation or radiation therapy has been linked to the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Some survivors of the atomic bomb attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan have developed cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia, possibly as a result of long term exposure to high levels of radiation in the environment. Previous treatment for other types of cancer has also been associated with the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Most first line cancer treatments involve the use of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which carries the risk of DNA corruption and can lead to the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Long term exposure to high levels of certain chemicals, such as benzene, has also been associated with the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Benzene is a known carcinogen that is used in massive amounts in a large number of industries. Some of the industries that use large amounts of benzene in production or as an industrial solvent include the agriculture industry, the manufacturing industry, and the petroleum industry. Individuals that have been employed in these industries for a long period of time have an increased risk of developing many different types of cancer, including chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Not all individuals that have been exposed to these risk factors develop chronic myelogenous leukemia and some individuals develop chronic myelogenous leukemia without ever being exposed to these risk factors. Researchers are still working to understand why some individuals develop chronic myelogenous leukemia while others do not. It is known that chronic myelogenous leukemia is not a genetic condition and individuals cannot obtain chronic myelogenous leukemia through contact with others. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is present in all age groups, but occurs most often in individuals that are middle aged or older. Men seem to develop the condition more often than women, but only slightly more often. Chronic myelogenous leukemia represents one-fifth of all the diagnosed cases of adult leukemia in western civilization and the number of diagnosed cases increases slightly every year.
Related Article: Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Symptoms
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