What is Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that interferes with the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets

It starts in the bone marrow – the soft inner part of certain bones, where new blood cells are made.  The term “acute” means the leukemia is a fast spreading cancer, so it can spread to other organs (including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system – brain and spinal cord, and testicles) more quickly than many other cancers.

Symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia

  • Fever or chills
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding that can be hard to stop
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Tiny red spots under your skin caused by bleeding

Risk factors

Risk factors are those things that make you more likely get it. They include:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene (a solvent used in oil refineries and other industries and present in cigarette smoke), pesticides, ionizing radiation, certain cleaning products, detergents, and paint strippers
  • Some chemotherapy drugs used to treat other cancers
  • Exposure to high doses of radiation
  • Certain blood disorders such as chronic myelogenous leukemia
  • Family history of a parent, brother, or sister who has had acute myeloid leukemia


Without treatment, acute myeloid leukemia can quickly be life-threatening because it spreads quickly. Treatments include chemotherapy, other drug therapy and stem-cell transplants.


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