Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. With AML, the bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells including:
These abnormal cells crowd out the healthy cells. AML gets worse quickly.
AML may also be the end state of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
White Blood Cells
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Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body.
It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.
AML is most common in people 65 years of age or older. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms of AML may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check for swelling of the liver, spleen, or lymph nodes. You may be referred to a cancer doctor.
Tests will be done to look for abnormal cells. They may include:
The doctor may do more tests to learn about the leukemia. These tests will help guide treatment. Tests may include:
AML is then classified as one of 8 subtypes. This helps the doctor make a treatment plan.
Treatment of AML is usually done in two phases:
Treatment options include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent AML. Since smoking is a risk for AML, quitting smoking may help.
American Cancer Society
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Provincial Health Services Authority
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/acute-myeloid-leukemia.html. Accessed January 8, 2018.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-myeloid-leukemia-aml . Accessed March 21, 2021.
General information about adult acute myeloid leukemia. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/patient/adult-aml-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 21. 2021.
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. Accessed March 21, 2021.
Short NJ, Rytting ME, Cortes JE. Acute myeloid leukaemia. Lancet. 2018;392(10147):593-606.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/21/2021