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Acute Myelogenous Leukemia - Causes , Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

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Acute Myelogenous Leukemia - Causes , Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

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Acute myelogenous leukemia is a severe variant of leukemia that might cause severe symptoms. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Published At January 5, 2021
Reviewed AtAugust 22, 2023


Acute myelogenous leukemia is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow and blood are involved. With early diagnosis, it is possible to cure the condition at a faster rate. The doctor should decide on a proper treatment plan after analyzing the patient's condition. The overall health of the patient might alter the outcome of acute myelogenous leukemia.

What Is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

The term acute refers to the fast progression of the condition. A specific type of cell called the myeloid cell is present in the body that has the ability to develop into a few types of mature cells such as white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC), and platelets. In this condition, these myeloid cells are affected. So, acute myelogenous leukemia is also called acute leukemia. The other names for acute myelogenous leukemia are acute granulocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. In general terms, leukemia refers to blood cancer.

What Are the Causes of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

A spongy tissue called bone marrow is present in the center of the bones. It plays a vital role in manufacturing bone marrow stem cells. If bone marrow functioning is affected, then the capacity of the cells' maturation is altered. This might result in the conversion of immature cells into a white blood cell called myeloblast. Myeloblast is an abnormal cell that has difficulty in functioning properly. This might result in crowding out of the healthy cells. This contributes to the occurrence of acute myelogenous leukemia. The mutations in the DNA are also responsible for this condition. An altered mutation will instruct the bone marrow cells to divide and grow. However, the exact reason is not identified.

What Are the Symptoms of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

The initial stages of acute myelogenous leukemia might resemble the flu or a fever. In the later stages, it might develop the following symptoms.

  • Frequent nosebleeds.

  • Bone pain.

  • Easy bruising.

  • Heavier than normal periods in females.

  • Bleeding and swollen gums.

  • Excessive sweating, especially during the night.

  • Unexplained weight loss.

  • Shortness of breath.

What Are the Risk Factors of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

Even though the exact cause of acute myelogenous leukemia is not identified, some factors are known to increase the risk for the occurrence of acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Excessive Exposure to Radiation: Individuals who have a higher degree of radiation exposure have a higher risk of developing acute myelogenous leukemia. This might include people who have survived life-threatening accidents like the nuclear reactor accident.

  • Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals: A concentrated solution might cause irritation to a few people. If a person is exposed to harmful chemicals like benzene, they have a higher degree of risk for acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Blood Disorders: Patients who have blood disorders like myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera, and myelodysplasia are known to suffer from acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Smoking: The hazardous material present in the cigarette is known to contain components of benzene. It is also known to contain other cancer-causing substances. This might also increase the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Down's Syndrome: Patients who have Down's syndrome have an increased risk of suffering from acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Other Genetic Disorders: The presence of any genetic disorder might increase genetic mutation possibilities. This, in turn, results in acute myelogenous leukemia.

  • Gender: Men are known to be affected more by acute myelogenous leukemia than women.

  • Age Factor: As age increases, the risk for acute myelogenous leukemia also increases. Acute myelogenous leukemia is known to affect people who are more than 65 years of age.

What Is the Diagnostic Procedure for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

If the doctor suspects the patient has acute myelogenous leukemia, you will be recommended to undergo a few diagnostic tests to confirm the condition. They are:

  • Bone Marrow Test: A bone marrow test is recommended for making a confirmatory diagnosis. In this procedure, a biopsy of the bone marrow is taken. The sample of the bone marrow is collected using a needle. The most common site for the sample is your hip bone. After the collection of the biopsy, it is sent to the laboratory for the results.

  • Blood Test: The presence of immature blood cells would not be noticed in the case of acute myelogenous leukemia. This might serve as an indication for acute myelogenous leukemia. In most people affected by acute myelogenous leukemia, there could be an insufficient number of platelets and red blood cells. In addition to this, they might have a higher level of white blood cells. In a few people, white blood cells can reduce. This might be a difficult point of diagnosis. A peripheral blood smear is required to detect the presence of blast cells. The count of the cells is identified with the help of a complete blood count (CBC).

  • Spinal Tap: This procedure of lumbar puncture is known as a spinal tap. The fluid surrounding the spinal cord is collected to check the presence of leukemia cells. It is a sensitive procedure and might require a specialist to perform this diagnostic procedure. A small needle is injected into the spinal canal present in the lower back region.

  • Imaging Test: The condition of acute myelogenous leukemia might result in the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body. This secondary cancer might be difficult to diagnose. Imaging techniques like computer tomography scan (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and X-rays are useful in identifying the location of secondary cancer.

What Are the Treatment Options for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

The various treatment options for acute myelogenous leukemia are,

  • Medications: Medications like arsenic trioxide and all-trans retinoic acid are beneficial in targeting cancer cells.

  • Stem Cell Transplantation: There are possibilities for acute myelogenous leukemia treatment methods to destroy the individual's healthy cells. To overcome this problem, doctors might use stem cell therapy.

  • Radiation: In this method, high-energy X-rays are used to stop cancer cells' growth.

  • Chemotherapy: The drugs are provided to the patients through the mouth or veins. Chemotherapy drugs help in killing cancer cells. They also prevent the further proliferation of cancer cells.

  • Gilteritinib: A new drug called Gilteritinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, has shown promising results in clinical trials for the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia. In addition, several clinical trials have also evaluated the efficacy and safety of Gilteritinib in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia. These studies have shown that Gilteritinib can improve overall survival and response rates in certain subsets of AML patients, particularly those with FLT3 mutations.

What Is the Prognosis of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

The patient's age, overall health, and the particular characteristics of cancer, all play a role in determining the patient's prognosis for acute myeloid leukemia. Some patients can eradicate their cancer with treatment, while others may experience recurrence. It is important for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia to receive prompt care from a team of healthcare professionals, who can provide personalized treatment and support.


In conclusion, acute myelogenous leukemia is a serious and potentially life-threatening blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and the blood. Despite being a rare disease, it can have a significant impact on the lives of those who suffer from it. However, due to advancements in diagnosing and treating cancer, more and more people can get rid of this disease and live longer and healthier lives.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are The Causes of Leukemia?

The causes of leukemia include:
- Genetic disorders.
- Familial history of leukemia.
- Exposure to radioactive chemicals.
- Smoking.


Who Is More Prone for Leukemia?

Leukemia is a clinical condition that can occur in people of any age group or geography. Still, this condition is predominantly seen in people above the age of fifty years. As a population, it is seen commonly in white people and people with a demographic history of radiation exposure.


What Is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and How Is It Managed?

Acute myelogenous leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow cells that make the cells grow abnormally rapidly. The cells commonly affected are red and white blood cells and platelets. It is mainly treated with chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy, followed by stem cell transplantation in severe conditions.


What Is the Life Span of Patients With Aml, and Is Aml a Fatal Disease?

The survival rate of the patients diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia is generally five years, seen in around 29.5 % (percent) cases where any underlying disease can retard this rate. And the survival rate of AML in children and adolescents under 19 is around 66% (percent).


What Is the Triggering Factor for Aml?

The main triggering factor for acute myelogenous leukemia is smoking. As the components present in the cigarette, like benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals, can trigger the blood cells causing cellular modification.


Can Aml Be Cured?

Yes, even though AML can be a severe issue, it can still be treated and is often curable with chemotherapy and bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.


What Are the Stages of Aml?

As AML is not a tumor, the staging of this tumor is classified differently. Therefore, the classification of this tumor are:
- Untreated.
- Active disease.
- In remission.
- Measurable residual disease.
- Relapsed.
- Refractory. 


What Are the Risk Factors of Aml?

The risk factors of this disease include:
- Age
- Gender of the patient.
- Previous treatment for cancers.
- Smoking 
- Genetic disorders
- Familial history 
- Other blood disorders.


What Are the Signs of Leukemia?

The clinical features or signs of leukemia are :
- Fever.
- Chills.
- Frequent infections.
- Weight loss.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Nose bleeds.
- Fatigue.
- Petechiae spots (tiny red spots on the body).
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Dr. Lochana .k
Dr. Lochana .k



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