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:
Myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell) that fight infection
Red blood cells that carry oxygen
Platelets that make blood clots and stop bleeding in cuts and bruises
The leukemia cells do not function normally. They cannot do what normal blood cells do, like fight infections. The abnormal cells also overgrow the bone marrow, forcing normal cells out. Without normal cells,
and bleeding problems develop. They also cannot fight infections properly.
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. Tests may include:
Blood tests—to check for changes in the number or appearance of different types of blood cells
Bone marrow biopsy
or aspiration—removal of a sample of liquid bone marrow and a small piece of bone to test for cancer cells
(spinal tap)—removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid to check for cancer cells
Cytogenetic analysis—a test to look for certain changes in the chromosomes (genetic material) of the lymphocytes
Immunophenotyping—examination of the proteins on cell surfaces and the antibodies produced by the body
—x-rays of the chest that may detect signs of lung infection or cancer in the chest
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
Gallium scan and
—injection of a radioactive chemical into the bloodstream to detect areas of cancer or infection
Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine masses and organs inside the body
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.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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