Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by a rapidly-developing cancer in the myeloid line of blood cells, which is responsible for producing red blood cells, platelets and several types of white blood cells called granulocytes.
Because AML grows rapidly, it can quickly crowd out normal blood cells, leading to anemia, susceptibility to infections and uncontrolled bleeding.
Due to the aggressive nature of AML, this disease usually requires intensive treatment, which may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplantation.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
The following represent symptoms typical for AML:
  • Fever with or without an infection
  • Frequent bruising or bleeds that do not clot
  • Leukemia cutis (multiple lesions with a firm or rubbery consistency that may be pink, red, red-brown or blue-violet in color)
  • Night sweats
  • Pain in the bones or joints
  • Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs
  • Petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or feeling tired
If your or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, please contact your doctor for further evaluation, which may include a biopsy for a leukemia diagnosis.
Risk Factors for Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Risk factors associated with AML include the following:
  • Family history: Having a brother or sister, especially a twin, with leukemia
  • Hispanic descent
  • Cigarette smoke or alcohol exposure before birth
  • Smoking
  • History of blood disorders: Including myelodysplastic syndrome (also called preleukemia) or aplastic anemia
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Radiation or benzene exposure
  • Genetic disorders: Those with Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Fanconi anemia, neurofibromatosis or Noonan's syndrome are at a higher risk for AML

People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.
Note that having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will develop AML. Most people who have risk factors never develop cancer. Likewise, some people who develop leukemia may not have any risk factors present.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have AML, please contact your doctor for a medical examination.
If you have been diagnosed with leukemia or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
Sources: American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute