As of 2015, the exact cause of leukemia remains unknown, but experts link this condition with genetics and environment, states MedicineNet. Leukemia may occur when components of some chromosomes break off and attach to other chromosomes, a condition called chromosome translocation.
Experts believe that people with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, may have a higher risk of developing leukemia, notes Medical News Today. Other risk factors include hair dyes, maternal-fetal transmission and viruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus and human T-lymphotropic virus. A family history of leukemia, exposure to chemicals such as benzene, and previous cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, can also increase the risk of leukemia, states Mayo Clinic.
Leukemia or cancer of blood-forming tissues, which also include the lymphatic system and the bone marrow, mainly occurs from the production of abnormal white blood cells, reports Mayo Clinic. Normally, the bone marrow produces new cells, which replace the dying cells, explains Medical News Today. In a person with leukemia, the abnormal cells do not die after a while. They accumulate in the body, minimizing the space for the normal cells. Symptoms include impaired immune system, healing slowly or bleeding easily, and anemia, which may cause pale-colored skin and difficult respiration, or dyspnea.