Leukaemias are cancers of blood-forming cells.
Leukaemias produce large numbers of white blood cells which crowd the bone marrow
and progressively move into the blood.
Leukaemias are classified in two main ways:
- by cell type e.g. lymphoid or myeloid.
- by how quickly it develops - acute leukaemia appears suddenly and grows quickly
while chronic leukaemia appears gradually and grows slowly.
Incidence & Mortality
There were 808 new cases and 420 deaths from leukaemia in Victoria in 2010.
Risk of being diagnosed to the age 75 years
- Men: 1 in 99
- Women: 1 in 187
The causes of leukaemia are not fully understood. Causes are likely to vary by cell
- Children born with Down syndrome or with other rare gene changes have an increased
risk of acute leukaemia. Genetic factors may also play a role in chronic lymphocytic
- Smoking increases risk.
- People exposed (including in utero) to high doses of ionizing radiation are at increased
- Workers exposed to high levels of benzene have an increase risk of acute myeloid
If the information on this website raises any questions or concerns relating to your cancer, please
call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20. Specialist cancer nurses staff the
line Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm.