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Risks and causes

We don’t know what causes hairy cell leukaemia. But there are some factors that might increase your risk of developing it.

Risk factors

The only risk factors we know of are:

  • age – hairy cell leukaemia is rarely seen in adults under the age of 30 and hardly ever in children
  • gender – about 4 times as many men are diagnosed with this type of leukaemia as women

Other possible causes

Stories about potential causes are often in the media and it isn’t always clear which ideas are supported by evidence. There might be things you have heard of that we haven’t included here. This is because either there is no evidence about them or it is less clear.

Last reviewed: 
14 Apr 2015
  • Statistical information from Cancer Research UK Statistical team (Cancer Stats)

  • Revised guidelines for the diagnosis and management of hairy cell leukaemia and hairy cell leukaemia variant
    G Jones and others
    British Journal of Haematology, 2011. Volume 156, Issue 2

  • Hairy cell leukaemia: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    T Robak and others on behalf of the ESMO Guidelines Committee
    Annals of Oncology, 2015. Volume 26, Supplement 5

Information and help

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