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Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML): Facts on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
  • 309 Views

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a form of blood cancer. It normally develops from cells that would turn into white blood cells. Sometimes, it can develop from other kinds of blood-forming cells.

Acute myeloid leukaemia begins in the bone marrow. In acute forms of Leukaemia, such as Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, bone marrow cells don't mature the way they're supposed to. These immature cells, often called blast cells keep dividing uncontrollably. Acute Myeloid Leukaemia is also known as acute myelogenous leukaemia, acute myeloblastic leukaemia, acute granulocytic leukaemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukaemia.

Signs and symptoms of acute myeloid leukaemia

Initially, signs and symptoms of acute myeloid leukaemia may be similar to those of the flu but they may vary based on the type of blood cell affected. Signs and symptoms of acute myeloid leukaemia include:


Tests and diagnosis for acute myeloid leukaemia

If you have developed various signs and symptoms of acute myeloid leukaemia, your doctor may recommend performing:
  • Blood tests: Most patients suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia have excess white blood cells, not enough red blood cells and platelets. The presence of immature cells in bone marrow but not circulating in the blood is another sign of acute myeloid leukaemia.
  • Bone marrow test: A blood test can detect leukaemia but a bone marrow test confirms the diagnosis. The procedure involves a needle which is used to remove a sample of your bone marrow from the hipbone. The sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): In some cases, it may be necessary to remove some of the fluid around your spinal cord to check for leukaemia cells.

Available treatments for acute myeloid leukaemia
 
Because acute myeloid leukaemia is a group of related diseases, treatment depends upon the type and other factors. Available treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia includes:
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer medications to execute cancer cells in the body. Acute myeloid leukaemia patients generally stay in the hospital during chemotherapy because the drugs destroy many normal blood cells in the process of killing leukaemia cells.
  • Other drug therapy: Trisenox and ATRA are anti-cancer drugs that can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy to cure a certain type of acute myeloid leukaemia. These drugs cause leukaemia cells with a specific gene mutation to mature and die, or to stop dividing.
  • Stem cell transplant: Stem cell transplant, also called bone marrow transplant helps re-establish healthy stem cells by replacing unhealthy bone marrow with leukaemia-free stem cells that will regenerate healthy bone marrow. Before this procedure, you will get high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy your leukaemia-making bone marrow.

It’s easy to get tangled in the tests, treatments and procedures of acute myeloid leukaemia. But it's important to take care of yourself, so indulge in yoga, gardening, cooking and other mind diverters.

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