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How Does Leukemia Develop?

All cancers begin with damage to the cells’ deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Within a cell, DNA is found in structures called chromosomes, which are themselves made up of segments called genes. Leukemia begins with DNA damage in the white blood cells, which protect the body from infections. In leukemia, DNA damage can occur through chromosome translocations (shifting and re-arrangement of chromosome segments) or mutations. Any one type of leukemia can have several genetic abnormalities at its core — this further complicates the interaction with other healthy genes, as well as the individual’s nutritional status in the development of leukemia (Greaves MF 2004; Irons RD et al 1996).