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Causes of Hairy Cell Leukemia

Delve into the factors responsible for the development of hairy cell leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer that warrants a closer look.

  • 17 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read

Hairy cell leukemia is a rare form of blood cancer that primarily affects B cells, a group of white blood cells essential for the immune system's response. These leukemia cells undergo aberrant changes and, when viewed under a microscope, have a "hairy" appearance, in contrast to healthy B cells. Surprisingly, these cancerous cells avoid the body's normal cell life cycle, accumulating and resulting in uncomfortable symptoms over time. Hairy cell leukemia normally develops slowly, allowing for a wait-and-see strategy before the start of treatment, which usually involves chemotherapy. Medical researchers and specialists have become confused about the root causes of hairy cell leukemia


How is Hairy Cell Leukemia Caused?

The main reason for hairy cell leukemia cause is still unknown, but it is thought that several variables have a role in its occurrence. The following are some of the causes of hairy cell leukemia:


  1. Genetic Changes:
  • HCL has been linked to mutations in genes, such as the BRAF V600E mutant, which is prevalent in most cases of the disease.
  • This mutation, which causes B cells to expand out of control, is believed to be a fundamental cause of hairy cell leukemia.


  1. DNA Changes in B Cells:
  • Hairy cell leukemia develops when genetic abnormalities alter the DNA of B cells, causing them to proliferate uncontrollably and prevent normal cell death, which aids in the progression of the disease.


  1. Bone Marrow and Organ Infiltration:
  • The accumulation of those defective B cells in the bone marrow and other organs can cause several symptoms and side effects that are related to hairy cell leukemia.
  • Hairy cell leukemia causes the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen to enlarge.

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Risk factors

There may be an increased chance of developing hairy cell leukemia in:

  • Older adults, typically in their 50s or 60s, are at higher risk.
  • Males have a greater likelihood.
  • Hairy cell leukemia is rare in children.



In closing, while the exact reason for causes of hairy cell leukemia remains a subject of ongoing research, genetic mutations and aberrant B cell DNA changes play a central role in its development. Understanding these pathways is crucial to creating therapies and enhancing outcomes for people with this rare blood cancer. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress.


Disclaimer: the above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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