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Types of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid lymphoma (AML) can be characterized into different subtypes. 

It’s important to get a proper diagnosis in order to learn what type of AML you have. Your individual treatment plan will depend on your AML subtype. 

Oncologists use 2 classification systems to diagnose subtypes or further classify AML:

  • The French American British (FAB) classification system
  • World Health Organization (WHO) classification system

People with AML may also receive genetic testing through the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at Penn

Identifying genetic markers or testing will also help your oncologist characterize your AML into three risk groups:

  • Favorable risk
  • Intermediate risk
  • Unfavorable risk

Patients with some types of chromosomal changes have favorable risk, which means they are more likely to get to and stay in remission with standard therapy.

Patients with other types of chromosomal or genetic changes have unfavorable risk, which means it will be more difficult to get them into, and stay in remission. If you are considered poor risk, your physician may recommend a bone marrow transplant as soon as you get into remission to avoid relapse.

Patients who are not in the favorable or unfavorable risk groups are considered intermediate risk.

Tools and Tests to Identify Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Subtypes

There are many tools used to identify and examine cells including:

  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Flow cytometry
  • Cytogenetics
    • SNP arrays
  • Gene mutations
  • Gene expression profiling
  • DNA methylation profiling
  • Proteomic profiling

The Center for Personalized Diagnostics offers the highest volume of genome testing in the region, with a current volume of more than 1,500 clinical and research samples to date. In clinical cases, disease-associated mutations have been reported in 75 percent of patient tests revealing results with therapeutic significance.

Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)

One example of an AML subtype is acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL. 

Patients with APL have a specific chromosomal abnormality that affects the way their body handles a chemical in the body called retinoic acid.

Retinoic acid is involved in cell maturation. In other words, in people with APL, cells are not able to mature properly.

If this chromosomal abnormality is detected, people with APL receive a medication which is a derivative of Vitamin A in order to improve outcomes of standard therapy.

What was once one of the most fatal forms of leukemia is now one of the most curable thanks to personalized diagnostics and treatment.