Acute myeloid leukaemia


Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a type of cancer that affects the myeloid cells of the bone marrow. It is a type of cancer that progresses quickly and can be life-threatening if left untreated. The primary symptom of AML is bone marrow failure, which results in a deficiency of red blood cells and a decrease in white blood cells. Other symptoms include fatigue, frequent infections, easy bruising, and unexplained weight loss. Treatment typically includes chemotherapy and possibly radiation or a bone marrow transplant.


The symptoms of Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) can vary depending on the severity of the disease, but common signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Unexplained fever or night sweats
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Paleness or pallor
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Pinpoint-sized red spots on the skin (known as petechiae)
  • Fluid buildup of the abdomen (ascites)
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mental confusion or changes in mood or behavior


The exact cause of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is unknown. Many factors, including genetics, environmental exposure, and certain medical conditions, have been associated with an increased risk of developing AML.

The known risk factors for AML include prior exposure to radiation, such as therapeutic doses or occupational exposure; exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene or solvents; and certain inherited genetic conditions, including Down syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Kostmann syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Other risk factors include a family history of AML, being a smoker, and older age.

Risk factors

The exact cause of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is unknown. However, certain factors are associated with an increased risk of developing the condition such as:

  1. Age: AML is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 60.
  2. Exposure to radiation: This could be from an occupational hazard, medical treatment, or a radiation accident.
  3. Genetic predisposition: Individuals with certain inherited blood disorders, such as Down Syndrome, are more likely to develop AML.
  4. Exposure to toxic chemicals: Benzene, a chemical found in various products such as gasoline and pesticides, is known to increase the risk of AML.
  5. Certain gene mutations: Mutations in certain genes, such as SF3B1, have been linked to an increased risk of AML.
  6. A weakened immune system: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those taking immunosuppressants for an organ transplant, or those with HIV or AIDS, are at an increased risk of developing AML.


Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests. A physical examination will often reveal signs of anemia, inflammation, and an enlarged spleen. Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a peripheral blood smear will be used to help determine the type, number, and maturity of the leukemic cells. In addition, a bone marrow biopsy or aspiration may be performed to remove a sample of bone marrow for examination. Other specialty tests, such as a chromosomal analysis and flow cytometry, may be used to further characterize the cells and confirm the diagnosis of AML. Lastly, imaging tests may be used to evaluate the size of the spleen, check for any abnormalities in the lungs and other organs, and generally assess the extent of the disease.


The subtypes of Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) can be divided into two primary categories: cytogenetic-based subtypes and mutations-based subtypes.

Cytogenetic-based subtypes refer to the leukaemia subtypes based on changes in the chromosomes that can be seen under a microscope. These changes are called karyotype abnormalities, and the subtypes include core binding factor-AML (CBF-AML), t(8;21), inv(16), t(16;16), t(15;17), and complex karyotype AML.

Mutations-based subtypes are based on the genetic mutations that are present in the cancer cells, as they can help to predict response to treatment and overall prognosis. These mutations include mutations in the NPM1 gene, FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene, c-KIT gene, and mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 (IDH1 and IDH2) genes.


The treatment options for Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) vary depending on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health. Generally, treatment includes chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy. In some cases, a stem cell transplant may also be used.

Chemotherapy is the main course of treatment for AML. This involves using drugs to destroy leukaemia cells and stop them from growing. Usually, multiple cycles of chemotherapy are needed.

Radiation therapy can be used to treat AML that has spread to another part of the body. It works by targeting the cancer cells with high-energy X-ray beams.

A stem cell transplant is a procedure that replaces stem cells that have been damaged or destroyed by the leukaemia. Stem cells are collected from the patient or a donor and then transplanted into the patient.

In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment options with you based on your individual situation.


To reduce the risk of Acute myeloid leukaemia, it is important to take preventive measures such as avoiding exposure to toxins and radiation, leading a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking. Avoiding prolonged exposure to benzene, a chemical found in some solvents, paints, and glues is also suggested. Additionally, eating a diet high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, and taking folic acid supplements can also reduce your risk of developing the disease. Finally, it is also suggested to get regular check-ups and maintain a healthy weight.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are some gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Generally, males are more likely to develop AML than females, and females tend to have a slightly better prognosis. Additionally, females are more likely to have a longer period of remission and better response to chemotherapy than males. Male patients are more likely to present with high white blood cell counts and more severe anemia than female patients. Additionally, males tend to require more intensive and aggressive treatments, as well as more frequent blood transfusions than females. Lastly, there is evidence to suggest that certain genetic mutations, such asFLT3, are more common in males and may be associated with a poorer prognosis.


Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Good nutrition can help boost the immune system, reduce fatigue, and maintain healthy blood counts. It can also help people manage side effects like nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. For people with AML, proper nutrition is essential to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to fight cancer. Eating foods that are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals can help boost the immune system and provide the body with the energy it needs. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help provide the body with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that can protect healthy cells. Additionally, avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and refined sugars can help reduce inflammation and provide the body with the nutrients it needs to fight off cancer cells. It is also important to stay hydrated to help the body fight off infection and heal properly. In addition to proper nutrition, it is also important to get adequate rest and exercise to help improve overall health and well-being.

Physical Activity

Physical activity has not been directly linked to Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). However, research has shown that certain lifestyle factors can influence the risk for certain types of cancer including leukaemia. Regular physical activity has been associated with reduced risk for AML in certain populations, and may help improve the overall health of individuals with AML by helping to reduce inflammation, boosting the immune system, and aiding in weight management. Additionally, physical activity can help to reduce stress levels, improve mood and concentration, and increase energy levels, all of which are important for someone dealing with a diagnosis of AML. Therefore, engaging in regular physical activity is encouraged for individuals living with AML.

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