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).
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