What is Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is cancer affecting blood cells. When the myeloid cells become abnormal, these cells then grow uncontrollably. White blood cells are often affected, but red blood cells and platelets can also be affected. As these abnormal cells grow, they crowd out the bone marrow. This prevents healthy cells from having room to grow.

AML is adults’ most common type of acute (fast-growing) leukemia. In addition to affecting the bone marrow, leukemia can invade other body areas.

Risk factors associated with developing AML can include:

  • Being of the male sex
  • Increasing age
  • Tobacco use
  • History of radiation exposure
  • History of having chemotherapy previously


Symptoms of AML can vary for each person, but some of the common symptoms of this cancer include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Feeling very fatigued
  • Frequent or recurrent infections


When someone presents to their healthcare provider with their concerning symptoms, lab work may be done to help find the cause of the symptoms. One of the commonly ordered lab tests is a complete blood count or CBC. This gives the provider the number of all of the different types of blood cells that the bone marrow makes. In AML, these counts may be significantly out of range, and some levels can be significantly high or low.

Other blood tests can be drawn to help get a diagnosis. One test is called flow cytometry, which looks at the blood cells in a unique way to find characteristics that may be present in leukemia.

Another diagnostic test is a bone marrow biopsy, during which a sample of bone marrow and bone is removed to be tested for the presence of leukemia cells.

Imaging studies such as CT scan may be done to see if the internal organs appear normal or if there has been an invasion of cancer cells into any area outside of the bone marrow.


The exact treatment for AML will be determined once the diagnosis is made and all testing is complete. Other lab tests will often be evaluated to assess chromosomes and other leukemia characteristics that may influence treatment decisions.

Chemotherapy is often used to treat AML and is given in different phases, the first to kill the cancer cells in the bone marrow and the next phase to keep the cells from growing back. Radiation therapy may also be used with high-energy beams targeted at cancerous areas.

A stem cell transplant may be done in some individuals with AML. During this procedure, high doses of chemotherapy are given to kill the cells of the bone marrow. Stem cells are then transfused to help the body make blood cells again.

If you’ve been diagnosed with AML, talk to your cancer team about the specifics of your cancer. They can help you understand your diagnosis and how best to treat it.


In summary, acute myeloid leukemia is a blood and bone marrow cancer. The overproduction of abnormal white blood cells characterizes it. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome.

The importance of leukemia screening

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is a type of cancer of cells in the body that make blood, most often white blood cells; however, leukemia can also form in other blood cells. When these cells become abnormal, they grow uncontrollably and become cancerous. There are multiple types of leukemia, which are divided into chronic and acute leukemias.

Some cancers have screening tests available to help look for cancer development early before cancer starts causing any symptoms. Leukemia has no screening tests and is discovered when evaluating the cause of symptoms.

Risk factors for Leukemia

Some of the risk factors for developing leukemia can include:

● Smoking cigarettes

● Family history of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

● Exposure to chemicals such as benzene or Agent Orange

● History of radiation exposure

● History of receiving chemotherapy

● Increasing age

Symptoms of leukemia

Symptoms of leukemia lymphoma can include:

● Fevers, chills, night sweats

● Unintentional weight loss

● Appetite changes

● Enlarged lymph nodes

● Bleeding or easy bruising

● Frequent infections

● Abdominal pain

● Difficulty breathing

● Nosebleeds

Tests for leukemia

If you present to your healthcare provider for any of the above symptoms, they will likely start with a physical examination and evaluation of your history. They will pay particular attention to any lymph nodes that can be felt and examine the abdomen to see if the spleen can be felt. Blood work may also be done to evaluate the blood count and see how many white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are present. Blood tests may also be done to check for infection, inflammation, or other disorders.

A blood test called flow cytometry can be done to evaluate the blood cells and see if leukemia cells are present. A bone marrow biopsy may be done to see if leukemia cells are present in the bone marrow.

Imaging studies such as a CT scan, ultrasound, or PET scan may be ordered to get a better picture of any enlarged lymph nodes in the body and to see if they look suspicious for the involvement of leukemia.

If you have not been screened for leukemia, It is important to do so if you have not been screened for leukemia. Leukemia is a type of cancer that begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. The cancerous cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for the body to get oxygen and nutrients.

If detected early, there are treatments available that can help dramatically improve your prognosis and quality of life. Talk to your doctor today about getting screened for leukemia.


We would love to hear your thoughts or questions.

Please fill and submit the form below and one of our program evangelists will reach out to you shortly.
Protected by reCAPTCHA

Thank you for recommending your support group!
We will be reaching out to invite your group to participate in our network.

Request to Access was submitted

A specialist with this email already exists in cancerGO

Request Physician/Specialist Access

We are excited about your interest in cancerGO! Physicians/specialists provide deep insights, novel clinical methods, and invaluable advice to patients, their loved ones, and the broader community.

Please fill below to request early access and we will get back to you shortly with further details.
Protected by reCAPTCHA