What is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is also known as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). It is a blood and bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside the bones where blood cells are formed) cancer. It arises most frequently from cells that will develop into white blood cells (other than lymphocytes). However, AML also arises in other blood-forming cells like red blood cells and platelets. AML begins in the bone marrow, but most of the time, it spreads rapidly into the blood as well. Occasionally, it may be disseminated to certain organs of the body, such as lymph nodes, liver, spleen, brain, spinal cord, and testes.
Risk Factors for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
The following conditions have the congenital (by birth) predisposition towards AML.
- Down syndrome
- Bloom syndrome
- Congenital neutropenia
- Klinefelter’s syndrome
- Ataxia telangiectasia
- Fanconi’s anemia
- Neurofibromatosis Type1
Aplastic anemia is a condition where your body is unable to produce a sufficient number of blood cells. It is linked with an increased risk of AML.
A group of disorders caused by a disruption in the production of blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndrome has been linked to an increased risk of AML.
Other risk factors:
- Paroxysmal Nocturnal hemoglobinuria( PNH)
- Exposures to certain radiations
- Previous treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs
- Exposure to certain chemicals like benzene, petroleum, formaldehyde, herbicides, and pesticides
- Fetal exposure to tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana
Signs & Symptoms of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
Sign and symptoms vary according to the type of blood cells affected; these maybe
- Frequent /recurrent infections
- Pallor( paleness of skin and conjunctiva)
- Dyspnea( difficulty in breathing)
- Coagulation abnormalities (Bleeding and easy bruising)
- Bone pains
Diagnosis for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
Following Laboratory investigations, procedures, and genetics studies are required to make an appropriate diagnosis.
- Complete blood count (CBC) with peripheral blood smears
- Liver function tests (LFTs)
- Renal Functional Tests (RFTs)
- Blood electrolyte levels
- Coagulation profile: Prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time
Gold standard/definitive tests are:
- Bone marrow smears
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Lumbar puncture
- Flow cytometry
- Molecular and cytogenetic analysis for cytogenetic abnormalities.
Treatment Options for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
The appropriate treatment for AML may vary between patients. This is because different treatments may be more/less effective depending on the location and stage of cancer. Belo are some of the most common treatments used:
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 in the blood stream. 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.
During radiation therapy (or radiotherapy), high-energy radiation is used to target and destroy cancer cells. This is usually via a machine which aims high-energy beams at the tumour. Radiation therapy is sometimes combined with chemotherapy to increase its effectiveness. Radiation therapy can cause side effects. These include:
- Red, irritated skin around the targeted area (similar to sunburn).
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Nausea and vomiting due to the treatment being close to the stomach.
Bone Marrow Transplant
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 Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)?
Acute Myelogenous 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 Myelogenous 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.