Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a rare disease, and a severe one. It’s the most common form of leukemia. According to MedGadget’s market predictions, diagnoses of AML are expected to greatly increase in the coming years.
AML happens when the DNA of a developing bone marrow cell is damaged, and the cell becomes a leukemic cell, which multiplies exponentially. AML then affects partially developed normal cells and impedes their function (known as leukemia blasts). As the leukemia blasts grow, they overpower and block the production of normal cells.
A major cause of AML is recurrent exposure to benzene, a key ingredient in gasoline. Benzene hides in surprising places, from household products to cigarette smoke. The most common exposure pathway is through inhalation, but benzene can also be absorbed into the skin.
Once in the bloodstream, benzene affects the bone marrow, thus causing AML or other life-threatening diseases such as Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and Aplastic Anemia.
The American Cancer Society states that 20,830 AML cases were detected in 2015, with 10,640 deaths. AML is also more common in men than in women.
In the next few years, an increase in AML cases is expected due primarily to increasing benzene exposures. People who work in industries where benzene is used or present have a much higher risk of benzene exposure and experiencing benzene-related forms of leukemia and lymphoma.
Industries such as automobile mechanics, pipefitters, dock and offshore workers, lab technicians, steel workers, petroleum refining and extraction, fire fighters, carpet cleaners and floor layers are just a few occupations that have a high risk of benzene exposure.