Leukemia is a type of cancer that develops in the bone marrow. With acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloid cells that are precursors to blood cells, including:
The leukemia cells do not function normally. The abnormal cells also overgrow the bone marrow, forcing normal cells out. Without normal cells, anemia, bleeding problems, and infections easily develop.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. The term cancer refers to malignant growth of cells or tissue. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to the blood and other parts of the body.
It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.
AML is more common in those of Hispanic descent. Other factors that may increase your child's chances of AML:
AML may cause:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check for swelling of the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.
Test to assess bodily tissues or other structures include:
Imaging tests are used to evaluate bodily structures. These may include:
Once AML is identified, it can be classified. These subtypes are based on the type of cell from which leukemia developed. This is important because it can help the doctor make a prognosis and develop a treatment plan.
Talk with the doctor about the best plan for your child. Treatment of AML usually involves 2 phases:
Treatment may include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent AML because the cause is unknown.
American Cancer Society
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Provincial Health Services Authority
Acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/leukemia/acute-myeloid-leukemia?src1=20032&src2=. Accessed November 9, 2015
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114798/Acute-myeloid-leukemia-AML. Updated May 15, 2017. Accessed January 8, 2018.
General information about childhood acute myeloid leukemia and other myeloid malignancies. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/patient/child-aml-treatment-pdq. Updated March 6, 2017. Accessed January 8, 2018.
Leukemia in children. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-in-children.html. Accessed January 8, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 12/20/2014