Sex differences in the incidence of chronic myeloid leukemia

Radiat Environ Biophys. 2014 Mar;53(1):55-63. doi: 10.1007/s00411-013-0507-4. Epub 2013 Dec 13.


The incidence of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which is caused by BCR/ABL chimeric oncogene formation in a pluripotent hematopoietic stem cell (HSC), increases with age and exposure to ionizing radiation. CML is a comparatively well-characterized neoplasm, important for its own sake and useful for insights into other neoplasms. Here, Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) CML data are analyzed after considering possible misclassification of chronic myelo-monocytic leukemia as CML. For people older than 25 years, plots of male and female CML log incidences versus age at diagnosis are approximately parallel straight lines with males either above or to the left of females. This is consistent with males having a higher risk of developing CML or a shorter latency from initiation to diagnosis of CML. These distinct mechanisms cannot be distinguished using SEER data alone. Therefore, CML risks among male and female Japanese A-bomb survivors are also analyzed. The present analyses suggest that sex differences in CML incidence more likely result from differences in risk than in latency. The simplest but not the sole interpretation of this is that males have more target cells at risk to develop CML. Comprehensive mathematical models of CML could lead to a better understanding of the role of HSCs in CML and other preleukemias that can progress to acute leukemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data