Lymphocytic Leukemia at 20x Magnification
Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common cancer that occurs in children. An estimated 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, the majority of which are less than ten years old. Acute lymphocytic leukemia does not appear, however, to be an inherited condition. Instead, environmental factors, such as prenatal or childhood exposure to radiation, electromagnetic fields, or certain toxins, are generally believed to influence the likelihood that someone will develop the disease. Recently, benzene has been of particular concern for its potential link to some cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia, especially since the publishing of a preliminary study in 2004 that suggests that living near a gas station or auto repair shop, where benzene emissions in the air are at elevated levels, may quadruple the risk that a child will develop leukemia.