John Libbey Eurotext



Epidemiology of hairy-cell leukemia Volume 5, issue 4, Juillet - Août 1999


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To date, few epidemiological studies have investigated hairy-cell leukaemia, probably because its incidence is low (about 3 cases per million and per year). However, the relatively precise definition of this disease makes it an interesting model for epidemiological research on malignant diseases of the blood since its aetiology is thought to be less heterogeneous than those of the more common groups of leukaemia. The most salient finding in the epidemiology of hairy-cell leukemia is probably the importance of the sex ratio (4:1), which remains unexplained by gender-related differences in known exposures. Surprisingly, a negative relationship with smoking is observed in several studies. With respect to occupational exposures, few arguments are in favour of a role of known risk factors for acute leukemias, such as exposure to benzene and ionizing radiation. In contrast, agriculture-related exposures may increase the risk of hairy-cell leukaemia. Lastly, the observation of several familial clusters calls for investigation into genetic predisposition factors and a potential interaction between those factors and environmental exposures.