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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.

What is a risk factor?

Anything that can increase your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor.

Different cancers have different risk factors.­ Having one or more of these risk factors doesn't mean you will definitely get that cancer.

Risk factors

The only known risk factors for hairy cell leukaemia 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.