Leukemia Home > Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Each year, there are about 10,600 new cases of adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML). People who have a history of blood disorders may be at greater risk for developing the disease. Common symptoms of adult AML include fever, shortness of breath, and easy bruising. Current treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation.

What Is Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. AML usually progresses quickly if it is not treated. Acute myeloid leukemia accounts for about 10,600 new cases of leukemia each year, and it occurs in both adults and children. Acute myeloid leukemia is also called:
 
  • AML
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia
  • Acute myeloblastic leukemia
  • Acute granulocytic leukemia
  • Acute non-lymphocytic leukemia.
 

Understanding Blood Cells and Adult AML

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.
 
In acute myeloid leukemia:
 
  • 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.
 
  • The 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 can cause infection, anemia, or easy bleeding to occur. The leukemia cells can also spread outside the blood to other parts of the body, including the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), skin, and gums.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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