Acute Myeloid Leukemia

acute myeloid
Bone marrow aspirate showing
acute myeloid leukemia
Image by Vashi Donsk

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a fast-progressing form of leukemia that if not treated immediately can be fatal within several months. This particular form of leukemia starts in cells that make white blood cells (not lymphocytes), red blood cells or platelets. Approximately 12,300 new cases of acute myeloid leukemia will be diagnosed in older adults (average age of diagnosis is 67) this year.1 For unkown reasons, this form of leukemia is more common in men than women.1

There are several types of acute myeloid leukemia, each which may be treated differently, but likely will consist of one or more of the following treatment options:

The use of two or more chemotherapy agents is a standard treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. However, it may not be recommended in older patients with poor overall health.
Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy, the use of high-energy rays to kill and destroy cancer cells typically is not a main treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. However, external radiation is used as part of a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant, or is used to treat acute myeloid leukemia that has spread to the brain or other parts of the body in which it causes discomfort or pain.
Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant
This form of treatment occurs when high doses of chemotherapy or radiation are given to destroy the bone marrow cells of the patient and then are replaced with healthy stem cells previously removed from the bone marrow or blood of the patient or a donor.
Monoclonal Antibody
A monoclonal antibody called Mylotarg, which targeted a specific molecule on the surface of acute myeloid leukemia cells, was recently voluntarily withdrawn from the market. Additional clinical studies revealed that the benefits of the drug did not outweigh potential safety risks.


  1. American Cancer Society, Leukemia - Acute Myeloid (AML) Detailed Guide. Accessed on August 2


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