Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, and acute granulocytic leukemia, is a type of cancer that develops in the blood and bone marrow, specifically the myeloid line of blood cells. The myeloid cell line is a group of blood-forming cells that normally mature into white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Acute myeloid leukemia originates in the bone marrow and quickly moves into the bloodstream. “Acute” indicates a rapidly progressing disease where cancerous cells multiply at a faster rate. Acute myeloid leukemia is more commonly found in men than in women, and is far more likely to occur in older adults than in children.

Signs and symptoms typically vary depending on the type of blood cell affected. However, acute myeloid leukemia may cause one or more of the following:

  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

The exact underlying cause or causes of AML are unknown. However, potential risk factors include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals and radiation drugs, other blood disorders, and genetic predispositions. Most cases of AML progress rapidly, therefore patients are generally encouraged to begin a treatment plan immediately following a diagnosis.

Acute myeloid leukemia treatment options typically depend on the patient’s age, their “fitness,, and genetic features of their disease, but may include one or more of the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Targeted therapy