- This type of cancer is rare under age 40.
- It generally occurs around age 65.
- AML is more common in men than women.
- AML is the most common type of acute leukemia.
- More than 11,900 new cases occur in the United States each year, mostly in older adults
- An estimated 245,225 people in the United States are living with, or are in remission from, leukemia.
- Fewer than 10% of people with AML are children.
What to expect when you get diagnosed with AML
While all physician's and providers are different this is generally the order of procedures when you or a loved one is diagnosed with AML.
- The doctor will perform a physical exam. There may be signs of a swollen spleen, liver, or lymph nodes.
- A complete blood count (CBC) shows anemia and a low number of platelets. A white blood cell count (WBC) can be high, low, or normal.
- A bone marrow biopsy will be ordered by your doctor. In a bone marrow biopsy a sample of bone marrow is taken from the hip bone or another large bone. A bone marrow biopsy measures the blast count, a biopsy is the only sure way to determine whether leukemia cells are in the bone marrow. This is especially important because AML is defined by greater than 30% blasts in the bone marrow, whereas a normal blast count is less than 5%.
- If leukemia cells are present additional tests will be performed to determine the type of leukemia. If your doctor learns you do have AML, further tests will be done to determine the specific type of AML.
AML can progress quickly so usually doctors want to start treatment immediately. Doctors will look at a patient's risk factors such as a patient's age and subtype of AML to help determine a treatment plan. Risk factors are linked to better or worse outcomes and may play an important role in determining a treatment plan.
Treatment for AML may include:
- Medicines to kill the cancer cells
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant
- Red blood cell transfusions to fight anemia
- Transfusions of platelets to control bleeding
Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)
Most types of AML are treated the same way. However, a form of AML called acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is treated with a medicine called all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). This medicine helps leukemia cells grow into normal white blood cells. The drug arsenic trioxide is approved for use in patients with APL who do not get better with ATRA or chemotherapy. - www.nlm.nih.gov
What are symptoms of AML?
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. In AML, the bone marrow makes many unformed cells called blasts. Blasts normally develop into white blood cells that fight infection. However, the blasts are abnormal in AML and do not develop into white blood cells. The can no longer fight infections. The bone marrow may also make abnormal red blood cells and platelets. The number of abnormal cells (or leukemia cells) grows quickly. They crowd out the normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets the body needs.
Alternate Names for AML
Acute myelogenous leukemia is also called:
Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute Granulocytic Leukemia
Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia.
Latest Treatment Options and Clinical Trials
There are new treatments and developments for AML. Ask your doctor whether any newer treatment options may be available for you including clinical trials.
Whichever treatment you and your doctor choose, you may be asked to be part of a clinical trial. Even standard treatments continue to be studied in clinical trials. These studies help doctors learn more about which treatments work best for which patients. - marrow.org