There are different subtypes of AML that are based on:
- The type of blood cell that is affected
- How mature (developed) the cancer cells are at the time of diagnosis
- How different they are from normal cells.
The treatment for most subtypes of AML is similar. However, acute promyelocytic leukemia is one subtype that is treated differently from the other types.
No one knows what causes acute myeloid leukemia, and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get AML and another person will not. However, leukemia research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop it. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Childhood AML risk factors include:
- Having a brother or sister, especially a twin, with leukemia
- Being Hispanic
- Being exposed to cigarette smoke or alcohol before birth
- A history of myelodysplastic syndrome (pre-leukemia) or aplastic anemia
- Past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Exposure to ionizing radiation or chemicals, such as benzene
- Having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome.
Risk factors for adult AML include:
- Being male
- Smoking, especially after age 60
- Previous treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Previous treatment for childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Exposure to atomic bomb radiation or the chemical benzene
- A history of a blood disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome.