What is Acute Monoblastic Leukemia?
Acute Monoblastic Leukemia is an uncontrolled (rapidly-growing) disease, in which the bone marrow and blood contain too many monoblasts (immature white blood cells that are not lymphoblastic). These cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from creating cells. During the blood formation process in the bone marrow, monoblasts differentiated from the myeloid stem cells. Monoblasts are committed progenitor (ancestor) cells and they ultimately form macrophages through various differentiation and maturation stages of development. Acute monoblastic leukaemia (AML-M5), is among the most prevalent subtypes of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), consisting of either more than 80% of monoblasts (AML-M5a) or 30-80% of monoblasts with pro-monocytic differentiation (AML-M5b). With this in mind, AML only accounts for around 1 in 100 cancers, making it a rare cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Monoblastic Leukemia:
Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with Acute Monoblastic Leukemia
- Pallor (Unhealthy pale appearance of the skin)
- Exertional dyspnea (difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath while walking or climbing stairs).
- Coagulation abnormalities like disseminated intravascular coagulation
- Neurological disorders
- Lymphocytosis ( Increased white blood cell count)
- Extramedullary infiltration by monoblast precursors( accumulation of leukemic cells outsides the bone marrow in other organs like skin,spleen,liver etc.).
- Gingival infiltration (accumulation of monoblast cells into the gums leading to gums hypertrophy/enlargement).
- Leukaemia cutis (cutaneous lesions due to infiltration of leukocytes or precursor cells into the skin).
How is Acute Monoblastic Leukemia Diagnosed?
The following tests may be done to make a diagnosis:
- Complete blood count (CBC) with peripheral smear – A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to evaluate your overall health. It is effective because it can detect a wide range of disorders, including leukaemia.
- Blood coagulation profile – A blood coagulation profile is a screening test which detects abnormal blood clotting. Irregularities may help with diagnosing types of leukaemia such as AML.
- Bone marrow aspiration and cytology – During a bone marrow aspiration, a small sample (biopsy) of bone marrow is extracted from your bones. It is then examined and tested in a lab to detect irregularities. This test allows doctors to detect leukaemia in the bone marrow.
Treatment Options for Acute Monoblastic Leukemia
The type of treatment used for acute monoblastic leukaemia varies depending on its stage, severity and behaviour.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to target and destroy cancer cells. It is effective against AML because it stops cancer cells from dividing and spreading. Due to the stress chemotherapy may have on the body, it is often split up into several “session”. During a session the drugs will be administered either orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy is known to cause side effects. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of hair
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Increased risk of infection.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the transplantation of stem cells, usually derived from bone marrow. The objective is to replace the cancer cells with stem cells, which grow into healthy cells over time. In order for the treatment to be effective, the immune system must be weakened first. This can lead to complications following the treatment. Patients will be at a much higher risk of severe sickness and infection.
What support can we give for Acute Monoblastic Leukemia?
Acute Monoblastic Leukemia is a rare cancer, meaning it is not as well known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. We provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from a rare cancer such as Acute Monoblastic Leukemia, we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
You can help us with your donation:
Without a Ribbon is a charity that works hard to aid those who suffer from rare cancers. You can help our cause in a variety of ways:
Donations — Without a Ribbon is grateful when we receive every donation. Giving to Without a Ribbon helps us to provide ongoing support, organise the annual gathering and subsidise the costs of our Warriors attending these conferences.
Sponsorship — If you wish to sponsor our charity, please contact us using this form.
Volunteering — We are always looking for volunteers to help with different aspects of running our charity. So, if you are looking for volunteer work, please feel free to contact us.