Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: An overview of aetiology in light of recent developments in classification and pathogenesis

Martha S. Linet, Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan, Dennis D. Weisenburger, David B. Richardson, Ola Landgren, Aaron Blair, Sharon Silver, R. William Field, Glyn Caldwell, Maureen Hatch, Graça M. Dores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


This overview of the epidemiology of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) summarizes the evolution of classification and coding systems and describes the intersection of pathogenesis and aetiology. The role of the putative precursor to CLL, monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL), is considered, and ideas for future investigations of the MBL-CLL relationship are outlined. We discuss the epidemiology of CLL, focusing on descriptive patterns and methodological considerations. Postulated risk factors are reviewed including the role of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, occupational and environmental chemical exposures, medical conditions and treatments, and lifestyle and genetic factors. We conclude by raising key questions that need to be addressed to advance our understanding of CLL aetiology. Recommendations for future epidemiological studies are given, including the standardization of reporting of CLL across cancer registries, the clarification of the natural history of MBL, and the circumvention of the methodological shortcomings of prior epidemiological investigations in relation to radiation, chemical exposures and infectious agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-686
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Aetiology
  • Chemicals
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Radiation
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: An overview of aetiology in light of recent developments in classification and pathogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this