Leukemia is a type of cancer that develops in the bone marrow. With acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloid cells that are precursors to blood cells, including:
The leukemia cells do not function normally. They cannot do what normal blood cells do, like fight infections. The abnormal cells also overgrow the bone marrow, forcing normal cells out. Without normal cells, anemia and bleeding problems develop. They also cannot fight infections properly.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. The term cancer refers to malignant growth of cells or tissue. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to the blood and other parts of the body.
It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.
AML is more common in those of Hispanic descent. Other factors that may increase your child's risk of AML include:
AML may cause:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check for swelling of the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.
Test to assess bodily tissues or other structures include:
Imaging tests are used to evaluate bodily structures. These may include:
Once AML is identified, it can be classified. These subtypes are based on the type of cell from which leukemia developed. This is important because it can help the doctor make a prognosis and develop a treatment plan.
Talk with the doctor about the best plan for your child. Treatment of AML usually involves 2 phases:
Treatment may include:
American Cancer Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114798/Acute-myeloid-leukemia-AML. Updated July 6, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Childhood leukemia. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003095-pdf.pdf. Updated April 17 2015. Accessed November 9, 2015.
Leukemia. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/leukemia. Accessed November 9, 2015
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.