What is Acute Erythroleukemia?
Erythroleukemia is a subcategory of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) which is characterized by erythroblastic proliferation. Erythroblast is an immature nucleated cell that develops in the red marrow as a stage or stages of red blood cell production or erythrocyte. In simple words, it is a neoplastic proliferation of blood-forming tissues or cells which resulted in the production of large numbers of immature, abnormal red blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is a rare subtype of acute myeloid leukaemia and constitutes only 3-5% of the total cases of acute myeloid leukaemia.
How common is Erythroleukemia?
The reported annual incidence rate is 0.077 per 100,000 people. Among the total reported cases, 64-70% are found in elderly males with a median age of 65 years.
How is Erythroleukemia diagnosed?
Two main systems are used for subtyping AML. One of these is the classification of the French-American British (FAB) that was used earlier and was replaced by the current classification of the World Health Organization (WHO). A modification of the FAB classification identified AML-M6 as the existence of more than 50 percent erythroid cells with greater than 30% immature blast cells of non-erythroid series. The WHO classification acknowledges the FAB criteria and the existence of cases of pure erythroleukemia where the only proliferation of immature erythroid cells occurred.
Causes and risk factors
A risk factor is something that increases the likelihood of Erythroleukemia occurring. Certain risk factors include the history of exposure to ionizing radiation, chemotherapy drugs, and rare genetic chromosomal abnormalities.
Acute erythroleukemia shows a poor prognosis. Difficulties faced in treating acute erythroleukemia comprise primary induction failure, relapse, and chemotherapeutic agent toxicity. Prognosis depends upon the findings of cytogenetic evaluation, presence or absence of specific chromosomal abnormalities and having a multidrug-resistant phenotypes.
Signs and symptoms of Erythroleukemia:
Acute erythroleukemia mostly presents with non-specific signs and symptoms. These are due to reduced blood production, arising from leukemic cells replacing the bone marrow. This reduction leads to anemia (decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of RBCs), decreased platelets and white blood cells count.
Common symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Bone and joint pains
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis can be made by correlating the clinical picture with the findings of blood profile, Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, Diagnostic radiology, and genetic abnormality studies.
Treatment options include chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and other biologic agents to stop the excessive proliferation and to correct the abnormalities in the way of normal erythropoiesis.
During chemotherapy, drugs are administered to target and destroy cancer cells. 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 the primary treatment option for erythroleukemia. It is effective because it can stop cancer cells from being able to multiply. However, chemotherapy can also cause strong side effects. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of hair
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Increased risk of infection.
Stem cell transplant
A stem cell transplant is a procedure where affected cells are replaced with stem cells. It is most commonly used for leukaemia and lymphoma – cancers of the blood and lymphatic systems.
Stem cell transplants are effective in treating erythroleukemia in some conditions. Depending on how erythroleukemia has spread and what stage it is at, it may be a viable treatment option.
What support can we give for erythroleukemia?
Erythroleukemia 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 erythroleukemia, 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 for every donation received. 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. If you are looking for volunteer work, please feel free to contact us.