AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Overview of AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a group of blood cancers. It originates in the bone marrow or the soft surfaces of bones. This disease tends to spread quickly in the body and therefore it requires immediate treatment. 

Due to this blood disease, the bone marrow cells do not grow properly. The formation of immature and poorly developed white blood cells halts the main body function. This calls for immediate action or treatment. 

Occurrence of AML

 

AML is a rather uncommon cancer as it only affects 1% of the population.  In adults, cases of AML constitute about 31% of the cases. Although this disease can affect any age group. But the estimated age for this cancer is 65 years old. 

 

Signs and Symptoms of AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

This cancerous disease starts in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a production unit of blood cells. Cancerous mutation in this sector can halt the body’s production of healthy blood cells. The human body has the following types of blood cells.

Red Blood Cells 

These are responsible for oxygen transfer in the human body.

White Blood Cells

White blood cells act as the body’s defense system. 

Platelets 

These cell fragments clot your blood and thus protect you from severe blood loss.

 

Depending upon the type of affected blood cells, the following symptoms and signs can occur:

In the case of Red Blood Cells

Signs and symptoms that a person may feel due to improper functioning of red blood cells: 

  1. Fatigue 
  2. Pale or white skin 
  3. Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat 
  4. Body aches or weakness 
  5. Dizziness
  6. Irregular breath pattern 
  7. Sudden weight loss
  8. Severe headaches 
  9. Appetite loss
  10. Cold hands and feet

In the case of White Blood Cells

 If a person has affected white blood cells AML, the following signs will occur:

  1. High fevers 
  2. Fatigue 
  3. Body or muscle aches 
  4. Diarrhea 

In the case of Platelets 

If the number of platelets is low in the blood, the clotting procedure will become improper. Given below are some signs of this condition:

  1. Frequent and easy bruising 
  2. Hard to stop bleeding 
  3. Gums bleeding 
  4. Nose bleeds
  5. Red spots under the skin
  6. Difficult to heal sores

In Case the AML is Spreading Aggressively

When cancer starts to spread in the body the following signs may start to appear:

  1. Vision problems such as blurred vision
  2. Pain in joints 
  3. Face numbness 
  4. Gums bleeding or swollen gums 
  5. Swollen gland in the neck, armpit, underarms, groin 
  6. Skin rash 
  7. Seizures

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Risk Factors of AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

This is a cancerous disease. In this condition, the cells continue to grow uncontrollably and thus begin to spread in the body. Although there is no exact cause the risk factors for this disease can be various. Some of the most common risk factors are:

  • Tobacco smoke 
  • Chemical contamination such as benzene, pesticides, insecticides, and cleaning products 
  • Radiation exposure
  • Existing blood disorders such as chronic myelogenous leukemia 
  • Family history 
  • Genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1

It is a disease that mainly affects the blood cells and their functions. Following are some of the most common complications of AML:

  • Anemia 

In this condition, the person suffers from low red blood cells. These cells are the primary blood cells because they are responsible for the transfer of oxygen in the body. Low red blood cells can lead to anemia. In this condition due to low oxygen levels, a person is always tired, weak, and has an irregular breathing pattern.   

  • Severe and Excessive Bleeding 

When the blood platelets are low, the wounds won’t heal. This makes a person more susceptible to bruising and bleeding. People who suffer from this disease deal with frequent episodes of nosebleeds that do not stop easily. 

Another complication of having a low platelet count is that the person may bleed internally. Internal bleeding can be fatal for the body. 

  • Weak Immune System

White blood cells are responsible for fighting off bacterial infections. But with AML, the proper functioning of these cells is interrupted and the body becomes prone to the onset of infections and diseases.

To deal with this decreased level of immunity, the patients are often advised as:

  1. Complete your course of antibiotics
  2. Give attention to personal hygiene 
  3. Maintain a safe and healthy distance from infected people 
  4. Update your vaccination status for hepatitis and other chronic diseases
  • Infertility

The treatments that are commonly used for AML, can cause severe hormonal issues. Hormonal imbalances can lead to infertility. Although this is often a temporary issue it can become permanent in some cases. The doctor can advise the patients to be careful. Some careful considerations to keep fertility in check are:

  1. Men can opt for sperm storage 
  2. Women can have their eggs or embryos stored

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Prevention

Acute myeloid leukemia is a blood disease that does not have an exact cause. Thus there is no known preventive strategy to minimize the chances of acquiring this disease. Still, there are some preventive measures that one can take to live a long and healthy life:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid drinking 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Making healthy lifestyle choices
  • Maintaining healthy weight 
  • Regular consultation with the doctor 

 

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Diagnosis

Given below are some tests or diagnostic procedures that can be suggested to you by your primary healthcare provider:

  • Blood Tests

The main diagnosis of the blood disease starts with blood tests. CBC is the most popular test in this regard. In case of low levels of red blood cells or platelets or poorly functioning white blood tests, the doctor may advise undergoing the following tests. 

  • Bone Marrow Biopsy

In this biopsy test, a sample of bone marrow is taken. This sample is then viewed under a microscope to check for any cancerous anomalies. 

The doctor uses a fine thin needle to extract the sample from the hip bone. In the case of cancerous cells, the patients have been advised of treatment and a follow-up. 

  • Other Tests 

There are some more tests that can brief the doctor about the patient’s condition.

  1. Genetic Testing 

In order to rule out the fact that this cancerous disease is due to a genetic anomaly, genetic tests are conducted. 

  1. Image Testing or Scans

If a patient is suspected of AML, then X-rays and ultrasounds can provide visual images of the internal systems of the body. 

  1. Lumbar Puncture 

If a doctor speculates that cancer has spread in the body, he or she may suggest this procedure. A needle is inserted to carry out the cerebrospinal fluid. This sample is then tested under a microscope to check for cancerous mutations. 

 

Treatment of AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia | When to Consult a Doctor

AML is fast-growing cancer that tends to multiply rapidly in the human body. AML treatment is a two-stage process:

Induction 

This is the first step in the treatment process. At this stage, the primary focus is to eliminate as many mutated cells as possible. The symptoms of AML are also minimized in this process. Most of the induction process comprises intensive chemotherapy. 

Consolidation 

This step deals with killing off the rest of the leukemia cells. This part of the treatment also ensures that the cancer is not relapsing.

Intensive Chemotherapy 

The treatment procedures are largely dependent upon the patient’s medical history, body metabolism, disease spread, and affected regions. 

Intensive chemotherapy mostly starts with two or three combination chemotherapy drugs. Some of the side effects of intensive chemotherapy for AML are:

  1. Ulcers 
  2. Feeling sick 
  3. Excessive bruising 
  4. Digestive problems 
  5. Skin rashes 
  6. Fatigue 
  7. Infertility 
  8. Hair loss 

Non-intensive Chemotherapy 

Depending upon the patient’s history and disease status the doctor might suggest non-intensive chemotherapy. The medications can be given to the patients through IV, orally, by injection, or under the skin. 

Medications

 Apart from chemotherapy, some other drugs are also used for the treatment of AML. Two of the most common drugs are:

ATRA( All Trans Retinoic Acid)

This drug can be given during or after the chemotherapy process. It mainly functions by changing immature white blood cells into healthy ones. This drug also helps to minimize the symptoms and their severity. 

Arsenic Trioxide

In case AML strikes back after treatment, arsenic trioxide is given to the patients. It kills off the leukemia cells and transforms the immature cells into healthy ones. 

Note:  (Consult your doctor before taking any medications)

  • Radiotherapy

High levels of controlled radiation are used to eliminate the cancerous cells in the body. Radiotherapy is often given to patients under two circumstances:

  1. In the case of a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

  2. For the treatment of cases in which cancer has progressed in the nervous system or brain.

Blood Transfusions

People who are suffering from AML may have to undergo repeated blood transfusions. This is mainly to cope with the loss of much-needed blood cells such as white, red, or platelets. 

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant 

This procedure is mostly used when the chemotherapy is not working. The body is prepared for this process with the help of radiotherapy. Similar to the administration of chemotherapy, the donated stem cells are given to the patient through a tube. In most cases, the donation is done by a family member. 

If you have any further queries or concerns, you can easily reach out to the best hematologists or oncologists near you anywhere in Pakistan via Healthwire.

Doctors to treat AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Last updated on Thursday 27/10/2022

Doctor

Dr. Amjad S.K Durrani

Oncologist | MBBS, AFSA, Medical Oncology, DMRT

Wazir Habib Cancer CenterRs 3500

0

Today’s Slots

99%

Satisfaction Rate

18

Years

Highly recommended. Very good doctor

Doctor

Dr. Nadeem Zia

Oncologist | MBBS , DMRT , TTPS

Mid City HospitalRs 3000

0

Today’s Slots

96%

Satisfaction Rate

27

Years

Highly Recommended

Doctor

Dr. Amna Masood

Oncologist | MBBS, FCPS

Pak Onco CareRs 1000

0

Today’s Slots

99%

Satisfaction Rate

13

Years

Highly Recommended

All Doctors treating AML- Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia