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A risk factor is something that affects a person's chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, such as a person's age, can't be changed. But having a risk factor, or even many risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease do not have any known risk factors. Even if a person has a risk factor and gets cancer, it is often very hard to know how much that risk factor might have contributed to the cancer. There are very few known risk factors for CLL. They are:

  • Getting older
  • Gender – men have a slightly higher risk than women
  • Having close relatives with CLL
  • Certain chemical exposures

There are no other proven risk factors for CLL. The risk of getting CLL does not seem to be linked to smoking, diet, radiation, or infections.

For more information about these risk factors, see Leukemia: Chronic Lymphocytic.

Last Medical Review: 01/30/2015
Last Revised: 02/23/2016