What Are the Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2019
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Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, is a very fast-growing type of cancer which affects the blood and the bone marrow. Acute myeloid leukemia is the most common type of leukemia in adult patients, although children may develop this disease as well. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia include blood cell abnormalities, frequent infections, fatigue, and easy bruising. Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant are among the treatment methods most commonly used to battle this disease. Any questions or concerns about this form of leukemia or the most appropriate treatment options in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The bone marrow normally produces unformed cells known as blasts. These blasts then develop into infection-fighting white blood cells. When a person has acute myeloid leukemia, these blasts do not form properly and are unable to fight the infection off. These abnormal cells multiply rapidly, often crowding out healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.


Some of the most common symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia include fatigue and a frequent development of infections throughout the body. Fever, shortness of breath, anemia, and loss of appetite regularly develop in those with this type of leukemia. Easy bruising or bleeding are sometimes side effects of AML as well. In more advanced cases, the central nervous system may become affected, as well as the skin, spleen, and liver. Blood tests or bone marrow testing can usually confirm a suspected diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.

Chemotherapy is generally the first line of treatment for those with a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. This treatment method involves the use of a combination of very strong drugs made from chemicals which are designed to slow the progression of the disease and destroy cancer cells. Side effects of chemotherapy typically involve hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Additional medications may be given in an attempt to reduce the severity of the nausea and vomiting which is associated with treatment.

A bone marrow transplant may sometimes be a necessary treatment option for advanced acute myeloid leukemia. This type of treatment requires the destruction of the diseased bone marrow, usually by means of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The bone marrow is then replaced with healthy bone marrow from a matching donor. Following any type of treatment, the patient will need to have periodic blood tests and should notify a doctor immediately if any of the symptoms recur.



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