What Is Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Marlton, NJ

Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, is a type of bone marrow cancer. Knowing more about AML can help treat it early or even prevent it. Continue reading if you want to understand what acute myeloid leukemia is.

An overview of acute myeloid leukemia

This type of leukemia is also called acute myelogenous leukemia and acute myeloblastic leukemia. Other names are also acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and acute granulocytic leukemia. It affects the myeloid cells. These cells develop into many types of mature blood cells (platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells).

The symptoms of AML

Acute myeloid leukemia should receive proper diagnosis and treatment. The early stages of this condition can imitate the symptoms and signs of flu. It may also mimic those of other diseases. Below are the symptoms and signs one should watch out for:

  • Unusual bleeding from the gums and nose
  • Fever
  • Easy bruising
  • Bone pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

AML causes

This type of leukemia happens when the bone marrow’s DNA goes through mutations. The DNA contains instructions for cellular functions. Mutations tell bone marrow cells to keep on dividing and growing. This results in out-of-control blood cell production. The bone marrow then manufactures immature myeloblasts. These cells cannot function properly.

Risk factors for AML

Many cases of acute myeloid leukemia do not have risk factors. Even so, it is still a good idea to know the different risk factors that may lead to this disease. Below are some of the risk factors that may increase one’s risk of developing AML:

  • Smoking cigarettes can lead to AML because of cancer-causing chemicals like benzene
  • Aging is also a risk. People at least 65 years old are vulnerable to this cancer
  • Men are more at risk of developing AML than women
  • Past chemotherapy or radiation therapy sessions place a person at increased risk
  • Genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are linked to AML
  • Exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation can lead to this blood cancer
  • Other blood disorders, such as myelofibrosis

Diagnosing AML

A bone marrow test can indicate acute myeloid leukemia. The doctor will take a sample of the bone marrow and test it to confirm the presence of leukemic myeloid cells. The breastbone or hipbone are the common sources of the sample bone marrow. Blood tests can tell if the patient has too many white blood cells. In some cases, the mature white blood cells can be too low. Immature white blood cells are in the bone marrow but not circulating in the blood.

The doctor will send the biopsied cells to the lab and test them for acute myeloid leukemia. This brings a better understanding of the gene mutations happening in the bone marrow. The results can help formulate the treatment plan. A spinal tap can help find out if the patient has leukemic myeloid cells in the fluid that circulates in the brain and spinal cord.

Treatments for AML

Acute myeloid leukemia treatments can be either consolidation therapy or remission induction therapy. Consolidation therapy is maintenance therapy or post-remission therapy. This treatment aims to destroy any remaining leukemic myeloid cells. Remission induction therapy is the first phase of the treatment. It does not wipe out the leukemia cells. Further sessions can prevent the disease from coming back.

Bone marrow transplant is also called stem cell transplant. This treatment replaces the diseased marrow with an illness-free one. The healthy marrow will produce illness-free marrow. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy can destroy the leukemic myeloid cells.

Targeted therapy uses drugs to focus on specific abnormalities in the cancer cells. It blocks these abnormalities and destroys the cancer cells. This treatment can be used on its own or with other treatments. Chemotherapy can also help treat acute myeloid leukemia. It can kill leukemia cells.

Alternative medicine can help relieve cancer symptoms in some patients. Exercise, acupuncture, meditation, massage, and relaxation activities can help. Dealing with this type of leukemia is also possible with proper coping mechanisms and support systems. Knowing as much as possible about acute myeloid leukemia can help the patient make informed decisions about their treatment.

The bottom line

This type of blood cancer can deteriorate one’s health quickly. Seeing your doctor as soon as possible can help you deal with the symptoms. Following the treatment plan can improve your prognosis. Working with your oncologist hematologist and treatment team can help make your treatment experience smoother and more tolerable.

Get more information about Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center in Marlton at https://lindenbergcancer.com.

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