Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a life-threatening medical condition where myelocytes turn to be cancerous and quickly replace a normal cell in the bone marrow. Acute Myeloid (myelogenous myelocytic, myelomonocytic myeloblastic) leukemia affects individuals of all ages, especially adults.

Taking specific cancer chemotherapy medications and exposure to high dose of radiations increase the chances of progressing the disorder. The leukemic cell tends to accumulate in Acute Myeloid Leukemiathe bone marrow and replaces cells, producing healthy blood cells. They are released into the blood and spread to other body’s organs, in which they continue to grow and divide. The leukemic cells may form chloromas (small tumors) just under or in the skin and may result in meningitis, kidney and liver failure, anemia, and other organ injuries.

The first symptom generally appears because the bone marrow fails to make up enough healthy blood cells. The symptoms usually include infection, weakness, shortness of breath, and fever. Other symptoms can include irritability, headache, joint and bone aches, and vomiting. A full number of blood cells may show the first evidence that a patient has any type of leukemia. Blasts (very immature, white blood cells) usually are found in a blood sample tested under the microscope.

Biopsy obtained from bone marrow confirms the diagnosis and the form of leukemia. About 50-85% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia respond to treatment. About 20-40% of patients show no signs of the disorder 5 years after a cure; transplant of bone marrow have increased that success rates to 40-50%. Individuals over 50 years of age with progressive acute myeloid leukemia after receiving radiation therapy and chemotherapy for other disorders, have very poor prognosis. The main goal for treatment is to destroy all leukemic cells. This type of leukemia however responds to fewer medications than other forms of leukemias do, and the cure frequently makes the patient more sick before he or she gets better. A patient becomes sicker, because the cure suppresses activities in the bone marrow, causing lowered white blood cell count (especially granulocytes) and granulocytes which may cause infection. In this case, a patient is treated promptly in a hospital with antibiotics. Platelets and red blood cell transfusion can also be performed. The first phase of chemotherapy usually consists of cytarabine for one week and Deumorubicin for three days.

In some cases, additional medications such as Vincristine or Thioguanine and Prednisone are prescribed, but the use is limited. Patients with Remission generally are given consolidation chemotherapy for several weeks or months after the initial intensive treatment to be sure that the remaining leukemic cells are destroyed (as many as possible). Brain treatment usually is not required and long-term curing has not been indicated to improve survival.

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