Learn About Acute Myeloid Leukemia

What is the definition of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is cancer that starts inside bone marrow. This is the soft tissue in the center of bones that helps form all blood cells. The cancer grows from cells that would normally turn into white blood cells.

Acute means the disease grows quickly and usually has an aggressive course.

Save information for later
Sign Up
What are the alternative names for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute myelogenous leukemia; AML; Acute granulocytic leukemia; Acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL); Leukemia - acute myeloid (AML); Leukemia - acute granulocytic; Leukemia - nonlymphocytic (ANLL)

What are the causes of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

AML is one of the most common types of leukemia among adults.

AML is more common in men than women.

The bone marrow helps the body fight infections and makes other blood components. People with AML have many abnormal immature cells inside their bone marrow. The cells grow very quickly, and replace healthy blood cells. As a result, people with AML are more likely to have infections. They also have an increased risk of bleeding as the numbers of healthy blood cells decrease.

Most of the time, a health care provider cannot tell you what caused AML. However, the following things can lead to some types of leukemia, including AML:

  • Blood disorders, including polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and myelodysplasia
  • Certain chemicals (for example, benzene)
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs, including etoposide and drugs known as alkylating agents
  • Exposure to certain chemicals and harmful substances
  • Radiation
  • Weak immune system due to an organ transplant

Problems with your genes may also cause development of AML.

What are the symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

AML does not have any specific symptoms. Symptoms seen are mainly due to the related conditions. Symptoms of AML may include any of the following:

  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Bleeding and swelling (rare) in the gums
  • Bruising
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath (gets worse with exercise)
  • Weight loss
Not sure about your diagnosis?
Check Your Symptoms
What are the current treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Treatment involves using medicines (chemotherapy) to kill the cancer cells. Most types of AML are treated with more than one chemotherapy medicine.

Chemotherapy kills normal cells, too. This may cause side effects such as:

  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Increased risk for infection (your doctor may want to keep you away from other people to prevent infection)
  • Weight loss (you will need to eat extra calories)
  • Mouth sores

Other supportive treatments for AML may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Red blood cell transfusions to fight anemia
  • Platelet transfusions to control bleeding

A bone marrow (stem cell) transplant may be tried. This decision is decided by several factors, including:

  • Your age and overall health
  • Certain genetic changes in the leukemia cells
  • The availability of donors
Who are the top Acute Myeloid Leukemia Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Hematology Oncology

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd 
Houston, TX 77030

Tapan Kadia is an Oncologist and a Hematologist Oncology doctor in Houston, Texas. Dr. Kadia has been practicing medicine for over 21 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is also highly rated in 32 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, Leukemia, and Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia without Maturation. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Kadia is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in
Hematology Oncology

Memorial Hematology Lymphoma Group

675 N Saint Clair St 
Chicago, IL 60611

Martin Tallman is an Oncologist and a Hematologist Oncology doctor in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Tallman has been practicing medicine for over 42 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is also highly rated in 40 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, Leukemia, and Hairy Cell Leukemia. He is licensed to treat patients in Illinois. Dr. Tallman is currently accepting new patients.

Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
Highly rated in
Hematology Oncology

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Medical Center Blvd 
Winston Salem, NC 27157

Bayard Powell is a Hematologist Oncology specialist and an Oncologist in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Powell has been practicing medicine for over 42 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is also highly rated in 26 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia without Maturation, Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia with Maturation, and Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. He is licensed to treat patients in North Carolina. Dr. Powell is currently accepting new patients.

What are the support groups for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

When a bone marrow biopsy shows no evidence of AML, you are said to be in remission. How well you do depends on your overall health and the genetic subtype of the AML cells.

Remission is not the same as a cure. More therapy is usually needed, either in the form of more chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant.

With treatment, younger people with AML tend to do better than those who develop the disease at an older age. The 5-year survival rate is much lower in older adults than in younger people. Experts say this is partly due to the fact that younger people are better able to tolerate strong chemotherapy medicines. Also, leukemia in older people tends to be more resistant to current treatments.

If the cancer does not come back (relapse) within 5 years of the diagnosis, you are likely cured.

When should I contact a medical professional for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Call for an appointment with your provider if you:

  • Develop symptoms of AML
  • Have AML and have a fever that will not go away or other signs of infection
How do I prevent Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

If you work around radiation or chemicals linked to leukemia, always wear protective gear.

Auer rods
Acute monocytic leukemia - skin
Blood cells
What are the latest Acute Myeloid Leukemia Clinical Trials?
A Phase 1, Multicenter, Open-Label, Dose Escalation Study to Assess the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics, and Clinical Activity of Orally Administered FHD-286 in Subjects With Advanced Hematologic Malignancies
Match to trials
Find the right clinical trials for you in under a minute
Get started
A Randomized, Open Label Phase 3 Study Evaluating Safety and Efficacy of Venetoclax in Combination With Azacitidine After Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation in Subjects With Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) (VIALE-T)
What are the Latest Advances for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
Use of Lithium in Hyperthyroidism Secondary to Graves' Disease: A Case Report.
Clinical characteristics, treatment, and prognosis of 118 cases of myeloid sarcoma.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Ivosidenib and Azacitidine in IDH1-Mutated Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : May 27, 2020
Published By : Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 10/09/2020.

What are the references for this article ?

Appelbaum FR. Acute leukemias in adults. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 95.

Faderl S, Kantarjian HM. Clinical manifestations and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 59.

National Cancer Institute website. Adult acute myeloid leukemia treatment (PDQ) – health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/hp/adult-aml-treatment-pdq. Updated August 11, 2020. Accessed October 9, 2020.