Leukemia Information: Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. Just as there are many different types of white blood cell, so there are many different types of leukaemia. There are two main types: lymphocytic leukaemia (arising from a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte) and myeloid leukaemia (arising from an immature type of white blood cell called a myeloid stem cell). High levels of exposure to radiation are known to increase the risk of leukaemia, but the levels of exposure for the public, including people in the nuclear industry, radiologists, and people living near Sellafield, are so low that researchers cannot find any reliable evidence of increased risk for them. Smoking increases the risk of myeloid leukaemia. Exposure to benzene (an industrial chemical) has also been linked to a risk of these leukaemias. The chemotherapy and radiotherapy used to treat some other cancers does cause a slight increase in the risk of getting acute myeloid leukaemia, although this is low enough to justify the use of these therapies.
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