About Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute Myeloid Leukemia can develop at any age, although it affects older adults most frequently; the average age at diagnosis is 65 years. AML tends to be a fast-growing type of leukemia, which is why it is called “acute” (and not “chronic”). While there is presently no cure for AML, there are treatments that can be very helpful at controlling the disease.


AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the bone marrow produces immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts. AML prevents these myeloblasts from developing into mature, healthy blood cells, so they just build up and crowd out your other healthy cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Sometimes AML can also spread to other organs, such as the brain, spinal cord, liver, or spleen. Without prompt treatment, AML can be life-threatening.

The exact cause of AML remains unknown, but medicine has identified some of the risk factors for this cancer:

  • Age, usually over 65 years
  • Being male
  • A history of smoking
  • Past treatment with specific types of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • A history of a blood disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, myeloproliferative neoplasm, or aplastic anemia
  • Certain birth defects and disorders, such as Down syndrome
  • Extreme exposure to particular hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and paint strippers Exposure to radiation

In the early stages of AML, when your body is producing fewer healthy blood cells, many of the symptoms are similar to those of the flu or another virus.

The most common early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling of fullness or pain below the ribs on the left side
  • Infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Night sweats

Once AML progresses and spreads, some typical symptoms are:

  • Sores that do not heal
  • Bleeding that can be hard to stop
  • Small red spots under your skin caused by bleeding
  • Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain in your bones or joints
  • Problems with balance
  • Swollen glands in your underarms, neck, groin, or above your collarbone

Acute myeloid leukemia is typically widespread throughout the bone marrow, and sometimes, it also spreads to other organs. However, it does not usually form tumors like other cancers do. Because of this, AML cannot be staged like most other cancers.

Instead, the type of AML is classified based on factors such as laboratory results and the patient’s age. Your doctors at Sheba will perform lab tests to determine the specific subtype of AML in order to decide on the optimal treatment.


What is AML?

AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the bone marrow produces immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts. AML prevents these myeloblasts from developing into mature, healthy blood cells, so they just build up and crowd out your other healthy cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Sometimes AML can also spread to other organs, such as the brain, spinal cord, liver, or spleen. Without prompt treatment, AML can be life-threatening.

 

What Are the Risk Factors of AML?

The exact cause of AML remains unknown, but medicine has identified some of the risk factors for this cancer:

  • Age, usually over 65 years
  • Being male
  • A history of smoking
  • Past treatment with specific types of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • A history of a blood disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, myeloproliferative neoplasm, or aplastic anemia
  • Certain birth defects and disorders, such as Down syndrome
  • Extreme exposure to particular hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and paint strippers
  • Exposure to radiation

 

What Are the Symptoms of AML?

In the early stages of AML, when your body is producing fewer healthy blood cells, many of the symptoms are similar to those of the flu or another virus.

The most common early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling of fullness or pain below the ribs on the left side
  • Infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Night sweats

Once AML progresses and spreads, some typical symptoms are:

  • Sores that do not heal
  • Bleeding that can be hard to stop
  • Small red spots under your skin caused by bleeding
  • Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain in your bones or joints
  • Problems with balance
  • Swollen glands in your underarms, neck, groin, or above your collarbone

 

Are There Different Types of AML?

Acute myeloid leukemia is typically widespread throughout the bone marrow, and sometimes, it also spreads to other organs. However, it does not usually form tumors like other cancers do.
Because of this, AML cannot be staged like most other cancers.

Instead, the type of AML is classified based on factors such as laboratory results and the patient’s age. Your doctors at Sheba will perform lab tests to determine the specific subtype of AML in order to decide on the optimal treatment.

 

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