Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia, also called AML for short, is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow being the soft, spongy tissue located inside your bones and the place healthy (or unhealthy) blood cells are made. Acute myeloid leukemia is a progressive disease, hence the word acute. Other names for this type of cancer are acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute myelogenous leukemia. While other forms of leukemia are more common in children, acute myeloid leukemia is common among all ages.

Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

A variety of signs and symptoms are associated with this type of leukemia, though many mimic the flu and other conditions. When looking at the symptoms, it’s best to notice them as a combination of signs rather than each individual symptom. Common symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia are fever, fatigue, lethargy, bone pain, pale and washed out skin, shortness of breath, bruising very easily, consistent infections, and unusual bleeding such as in the gums or frequent nosebleeds. The severity of these symptoms vary based on how advanced the acute myeloid leukemia is.

Causes of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

This type of leukemia is caused by the DNA of producing blood cells within your bones and bone marrow being damaged. During the damaging process, the blood cells begin being produced awkwardly, often more and faster than normal mature cells. Mature blood cells in bone marrow grow to be mature then die to make room for new cells. But with immature cells, they don’t die off as fast and therefore overcrowd and push out the healthy, mature cells. This keeps healthy blood cells from functioning properly. Some of the risk factors for this happening to blood cells include radiation and some chemicals. Someone with a history of cancer and has previously had radiation therapy or chemotherapy might be at a greater risk of getting acute myeloid leukemia, as well as someone with a family history of leukemia. Men also tend to develop this type of leukemia more than women and it is slightly more common in adults over the age of 65. Additional risk factors include smoking, being exposed to some chemicals like benzene, and having blood disorders such as thrombocythemia.

Treating Acute Myeloid Leukemia

The treatments for leukemia of this variety vary based on the person’s health, age, and how advanced the disease is. Personal preference is also taken into account when the treatment plan is chosen. One option for treating AML is remission induction therapy which will kill the immature leukemia cancer cells from the bone marrow and blood, however it won’t get rid of all the leukemia cells. This is why consolidation therapy is often done after remission induction therapy, to kill any remaining immature blood cells in the blood or bone marrow and hopefully prevent more from forming. Additional therapies include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplant which involves stem cells being transplanted into the bone marrow and replacing the unhealthy cells. Some people choose to go the natural, alternative treatment route which includes massage, meditation, relaxation exercises, aromatherapy, and acupuncture.

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