Benzene and Leukemia

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a form of cancer affecting the blood cells of the bone marrow, which is known as myeloid tissue. This most frequently diagnosed form of leukemia in adults usually affects people 70 and older. AML has been linked to exposure to the chemical benzene.

The onset of acute myelogenous leukemia can be sudden. The bone marrow produces immature cells that mature into white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, but with this form of leukemia a mutation occurs in which malignant white blood cells are created.

Symptoms of AML
AML develops suddenly and quickly, often reaching a serious stage soon after a person first displays symptoms. There are a number of symptoms, most of which can be attributed to the production of increased malignant white blood cells.

Some of these AML symptoms include red blood cell deficiency (anemia), fatigue, fever, shortness of breath (dyspnea), easy bruising, bleeding, a tendency toward chronic infection and fluctuations in weight.

Such AML symptoms can be incorrectly attributed to another condition, such as the flu or even a common cold. If not diagnosed and treated early, the results can be fatal.

Causes of AML
Acute myelogenous leukemia has been linked with exposure to benzene. Although benzene occurs naturally in the environment, it is used in a wide array of man-made products. Thus, people routinely face varying levels of exposure to this volatile solvent.

Prognosis and treatment of AML

Although generally a fatal disease, AML is treatable when diagnosed at an early stage. People with this disease are most often given chemotherapy.

Employers who operate facilities handling benzene or benzene-laden materials must guarantee the safety of their employees by minimizing the risk of symptoms from benzene exposure. Those who do not take such preventative measures may be subject to legal action. Benzene lawsuits are intended to provide compensation for pain, suffering and legal expenses incurred as a result of an employer’s negligence.

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