AML (acute myeloid leukemia) occurs when cancer cells grow in the blood and bone marrow. Found in both adults and children, there are about 10,600 new cases each year. Common symptoms may include fever (with or without an infection), shortness of breath, and weakness or fatigue. Current treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, and other drug therapies.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It usually progresses quickly if it is not treated. The disease accounts for about 10,600 new cases of leukemia each year, and it occurs in both adults and children.
Other names for AML include:
- Acute myelogenous leukemia
- Acute myeloblastic leukemia
- Acute granulocytic leukemia
- Acute non-lymphocytic leukemia.
(This eMedTV article discusses AML for both children and adults. You can click Childhood AML or Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia for more information on these specific groups. You can also click Types of Leukemia to learn more about other leukemia types.)
Normally, the body produces bone marrow stem cells (immature cells) that develop into mature blood cells.
The three types of mature blood cells include:
- Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body
- White blood cells that fight infection and disease
- Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
- The stem cells usually develop into a type of white blood cell called myeloblasts (or myeloid blasts)
- The myeloblasts (or leukemia cells) are abnormal and do not mature into healthy white blood cells
- Leukemia cells are unable to do their usual work and can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
This may lead to infection, anemia, or easy bleeding. The leukemia cells can spread outside the blood to other parts of the body, including the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), skin, and gums.