How to Prevent Leukemia

Preventing Leukemia


There is no known way to prevent most types of leukemia.

Some types of leukemia may be prevented by avoiding high doses of radiation, exposure to the chemical benzene, smoking and other tobacco use, or certain types of chemotherapy used to treat other types of cancer.

Although we don’t know the exact cause of leukemia, we are aware of common risk factors that may be associated with developing it.

Leukemia Risk Factors

You are more likely to get leukemia if you:

  • Have been exposed to certain chemicals, such as benzene
  • Have been exposed to a large amount of radiation
  • Have had chemotherapy for another type of cancer
  • Have Down syndrome or other genetic problems
  • Smoke tobacco

How to avoid getting Leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer that first infects a patient’s bone marrow, the soft tissues nestled inside the bone’s center. Once infected, these cancerous cells then invade the blood, which can carry the infection to other parts of the body. There are no known 100 percent reliable ways to prevent leukemia, but healthy lifestyle choices and an understanding of key risk factors can go along way to ensure that you stay cancer-free.

Understand the Key Risk Factors for Leukemia

Educate yourself about the potential triggers for leukemia. It is suspected that certain environmental factors can cause the formation of leukemia, including exposure to herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals.

Study your family’s medical history. If you have any primary relatives (parents, siblings or children) that have suffered from leukemia, your chances of contracting the illness are also increased.

Pay attention to any sudden or dramatic changes in your health, including weight loss or gain. If you’re concerned about any current symptoms, ask your doctor for a diagnosis.

Help Prevent Leukemia Through Positive Lifestyle Choices

Accept that there are no known preventable measures you can take against leukemia, but don’t let this discourage you from living a healthy, well-balanced life.

Exercise regularly, as studies show that active people are far less likely to develop cancer.

Avoid regular exposure to herbicides and insecticides.

Talk to your doctor about your specific health condition and seek his or her advice on whether or not you are at a higher risk for contracting leukemia.

Can childhood Leukemia be Prevented?

Although the risk of many adult cancers can be reduced by lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking), there is no known way to prevent most childhood cancers at this time. Most adults and children with leukemia have no known risk factors, so there is no sure way to prevent leukemias from developing.

Some leukemias result from treating cancers with radiation and chemotherapy, or the use of immune-suppressing drugs to avoid rejection of transplanted organs. Doctors are looking for ways to treat patients with cancer and organ transplants without raising the risk of leukemia. But for now, the obvious benefits of treating life-threatening diseases with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or organ transplants must be balanced against the small chance of developing leukemia several years later.

X-rays or CT scans done before birth or during childhood use much lower levels of radiation than those used for treatment. If there is any increase in risk from these tests, it is likely to be very small, but to be safe, most doctors recommend that pregnant women and children not get these tests unless they are absolutely needed.

There are very few known lifestyle-related or environmental causes of childhood leukemias, so it is important to know that in most cases there is nothing these children or their parents could have done to prevent these cancers.

How Do You Know If You Have Leukemia?

The characterized symptoms of leukemia vary according to its types; the common symptoms are as following:

  • Weakness, persistent fatigue;
  • High grade fever and chills;
  • Hepatomegaly or splenomegaly;
  • Swollen lymph nodes;
  • Bruising and bleeding;
  • Appearance of tin red spots over the skin (called as petechial rash);
  • Tenderness and bone pain;
  • Increases sweating at night;
  • Generalized weight loss;
  • Nosebleeds.

Note: Consult your doctor if you are having above symptoms or any other symptoms that worry you. Most of the times, leukemia is diagnosed through blood tests that are intended to be done for some other reasons.