Childhood Leukemia Overview

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can childhood leukemia be prevented?

Most children with leukemia have no known risk factors, so there is no sure way to prevent these cancers.

For some children, treatment with chemotherapy (chemo) or radiation for other, earlier cancers may cause leukemia later on. But the clear need to treat life-threatening diseases with chemo, radiation therapy, or organ transplant 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 cancer treatment. If there is any increase in risk from these tests, it is likely to be very small, but to be safe, most doctors advise that pregnant women and children not get these tests unless they are really needed.

Because the cause of most cases of leukemia is not known, parents of children with leukemia need to know that there is nothing they could have done to prevent this illness.

Last Medical Review: 05/13/2015
Last Revised: 02/03/2016