Hairy cell leukaemia risks and causes | Cancer Research UK
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Hairy cell leukaemia risks and causes

Men and women discussing hairy cell leukaemia

This page tells you about the possible causes and risk factors for hairy cell leukaemia. There is information about


How common hairy cell leukaemia is

Hairy cell leukaemia is rare. Around 8,300 cases of leukaemia are diagnosed each year in the UK. But around 220 cases of hairy cell leukaemia are diagnosed in the UK.  So it is one of the rarest types of leukaemia. 


What risk factors are

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is a risk factor. Different cancers have different risk factors. Having one or more risk factors for a disease does not mean that you will definitely get it. And, although a risk factor can increase your chances of getting a cancer, it does not cause cancer.


Risk factors for hairy cell leukaemia

We don’t know what causes hairy cell leukaemia. 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 – hairy cell leukaemia is more common in men. About 4 times as many men are diagnosed with this type of leukaemia as women.
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Updated: 14 April 2015