Myelogenous leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and of the blood. It can develop and progress very quickly, and typically affects immature blood cells in the bone marrow. In addition, it affects white blood cells, also known as the myeloid cells. The myeloid cells usual develop into several kinds of mature blood cells, including red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Myelogenous leukemia goes by several other names: acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute nonlyphocytic leukemia.
The symptoms associated with myelogenous leukemia are important for early detection. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of the disease during its beginning stages may appear similar to common illnesses, such as the flu. In addition, the symptoms can vary depending on the kind of blood cells that are affected. General symptoms include fever, weight loss, aches and pains that appear to come from the bones, fatigue, lethargy, paleness of skin, frequent illnesses, bruising easily, frequent nosebleeds, and gum bleeding.
Although it is unclear why leukemia of any form occurs in most people, researchers do have some general information as to the causes of myelogenous leukemia. In most cases, the DNA of the cells that are developing in the bone marrow becomes damaged – often due to exposure to radiation, chemicals and even chemotherapy pharmaceuticals. The damaged cells cause the entire production of blood cells to falter. Consequently, the bone marrow grows immature blood cells that turn into leukemic white blood cells or myeloblasts. The abnormal cells, in turn, overpower and prevent healthy cells from growing.
To determine whether a person has acute myelogenous leukemia, tests will likely be performed. Blood tests will indicate whether a person has an overabundance of white blood cells and an inadequate amount of red blood cells and platelets. In addition, a blood test can tell whether there are immature cells that are usually only in bone marrow in the blood. In addition, a bone marrow biopsy will usually occur to take a sample of the bone marrow for testing. Lastly, a spinal tap or lumbar puncture may occur to test for leukemia cells.
Once a doctor confirms that a person has myelogenous leukemia, an oncologist or hematologist will work to determine how far along the cancer is and the subtype of the cancer. Subtypes are broken down according to the maturity of the cancer cells, the degree of mutation, and the location and number of cancer cells. Based on the subtype and extent of the cancer, various treatments can be recommended, ranging from remission therapy to chemotherapy or drug therapy. There are also an abundance of alternative techniques that can be attempted to reduce or relieve symptoms, such as acupuncture and meditation.