Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a disease in which cancer grows rapidly in the bone marrow. Blasts, or cells that usually become white blood cells, are abnormal and do not develop into white blood cells, which are cells that fight infection. Acute myelogenous leukemia prognosis depends on how well an affected person responds to treatment, which includes bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy and other drug therapy. Generally, younger people respond better to treatment and, thus, have a better acute myelogenous leukemia prognosis than older people. It is said that this might be because younger people have a better tolerance for chemotherapy.
The treatment is divided into two phases: remission induction therapy and consolidation therapy. Remission induction therapy is the initial phase of treatment that kills the cancer cells, while consolidation therapy is the second phase that destroys remaining cancer cells. These two phases are important in acute myelogenous leukemia prognosis, as consolidation therapy serves to decrease a person’s risk of relapse.
A bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant, usually occurs after chemotherapy and radiation treatment and involves receiving healthy bone marrow stem cells. These healthy bone marrow stem cells replace cells that were destroyed during chemotherapy and radiation. It is possible for a person who undergoes a bone marrow transplant to receive marrow from himself.
Chemotherapy is the main treatment method for acute myelogenous leukemia in which chemicals kill cancer cells. It also kills normal healthy cells, though, which makes the affected person vulnerable to bleeding and infections. A person who receives chemotherapy will usually stay in the hospital during treatment because of the loss of normal cells.
Other drugs that treat acute myelogenous leukemia are arsenic trioxide or all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). Both drugs target a type of acute myelogenous leukemia known as promyelocytic leukemia. In addition to these drugs, antibiotics might also be useful in treating infections that occur because the affected person does not have enough healthy cells to fight infections.
Through treatment, most affected people experience complete remission from acute myelogenous leukemia, meaning their symptoms totally go away. This does not necessarily mean an affected person is cured, though. A complete remission bodes well for an acute myelogenous leukemia prognosis, but the affected person can still experience a relapse, or a return of the cancer. A relapse generally occurs within two years of remission, but if it does not recur within five years, the affected person is considered cured.