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Subtypes of Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

There are different subtypes of AML. The subtypes 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 adult acute myeloid leukemia is similar. However, acute promyelocytic leukemia, which is one subtype of AML, is treated differently from other types of AML.

Risk Factors

No one knows the exact causes of adult acute myeloid leukemia, and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get adult acute myeloid leukemia and another person will not. However, leukemia research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop AML. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Adult acute myeloid leukemia risk factors include:
  • Being male
  • Smoking, especially after age 60
  • Having had treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy in the past
  • Having had treatment for childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in the past
  • Being exposed to atomic bomb radiation or the chemical benzene
  • Having a history of a blood disorder such as myelodysplastic syndrome.

Symptoms of Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Like all blood cells, leukemia cells travel through the body. Depending on the number of abnormal cells and where these cells collect, patients with leukemia may have a number of symptoms.
The early signs of adult acute myeloid leukemia may be similar to those caused by the flu or other common diseases. Common symptoms of adult acute myeloid leukemia include:
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding)
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss.
These and other symptoms may be caused by adult acute myeloid leukemia or by other conditions. Therefore, people who experience possible symptoms of AML should see their doctor, who can make a firm diagnosis.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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