Leukaemia 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.


Nationwide there were 3231 new cases of Leukaemia in 2012

Causes/Risk Factors

The causes of leukaemia are not fully understood. Causes are likely to vary by cell type:

  • 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 leukaemia.
  • Smoking increases risk.
  • People exposed (including in utero) to high doses of ionizing radiation are at increased risk.
  • Workers exposed to high levels of benzene have an increase risk of acute myeloid leukaemia.




If the information on this website raises any questions or concerns relating to your cancer, please call Cancer Council on 13 11 20. Specialist cancer nurses staff the line Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm.