What Is Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)?

Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow, which is the organ responsible for blood cell development. Normally, there are three types of cells in your blood stream:

  • White blood cells
  • Red blood cells, and
  • Platelets.

In patients with leukemia, immature cells called blasts overtake their healthy bone marrow.

Acute leukemia is considered lymphoid or myeloid based on the type of blood cell that is involved.

In patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the healthy bone marrow is overtaken by blasts that, under normal cell development, would have become (non-lymphoid) white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets.

Acute myeloid leukemia accounts for 80 percent of adult leukemia. There are approximately 11,000 new cases of AML diagnosed every year in the United States.

Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Signs and symptoms of AML may look like other signs and symptoms of diseases or conditions. If you have any, some, or all of these symptoms,* please speak with your physician:

  • Body aches
  • Bruising easily, or not remembering how you got a bruise
  • Fever without a reason, or a low-grade fever
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Pinhead-sized red spots under the skin
  • Excessive bleeding from minor cuts 
  • Swollen gums
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness, lethargy
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss / loss of appetite
  • Enlarged spleen or liver (upon physician examination)
*From the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Other Names for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid leukemia may also be referred to as acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia or acute granulocytic leukemia.