Hairy cell leukemia is an uncommon malignancy, encompassing only 1-2% of all leukemias in the United States. It is slightly lower at 1.12% of all leukemias in Mexico.1 Incidence is reported as 2.9 per million persons per year for men and 0.6 per million persons per year for women, and is similar to that reported in England and Wales.2 The incidence in Hong Kong is much lower, at only 0.0035 per million persons per year.3 The highest documented incidence is derived from nationwide information from Iceland—at 4.7 per million persons per year.4 Generally, the disease is indolent with a prolonged clinical course.

Patients presenting with HCL are usually in their middle ages, with the median age of 52 years at diagnosis. There is a striking male predominance, with a male/female ratio of 4:1. This male predominance holds true throughout all countries.

There is also ratio discordance with race. Caucasians have a higher frequency of HCL than other races. Jewish males have a higher risk than Jewish females or those of other religion groups.5

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