- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) develops in the blood and bone marrow
- AML is a disease which does not have any cure
- Initially, AML symptoms resemble a common cold or flu
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a deadly form of cancer which develops in the blood and in the bone marrow. This disease specifically affects the white blood cells in your body and causes them to multiply abnormally. Such abnormal growth of cells can be fatal. This malignant cancer affects both kids and adults and develops at a very quick pace in the body. This disease mostly affects people above 50 years of age and is more common among men than women. AML is a disease which does not have any cure. However, there are some treatment options which can make a huge difference altogether. This disease is a fast-growing malignant tumour which affects too many non-functioning white blood cells, the immature ones, in blood and bone marrow. The pace of this disease is so fast that it crowds out the healthy cells faster than chronic leukemia. Signs and symptoms of this disease develop slowly and then become more severe with time because the immature cells, also known as the blast cells, start to take up more space in the blood.
How Acute Myeloid Leukemia grows in the body and how is it diagnosed?
AML develops in the bone marrow which is the inner, soft part of a bone. When this disease develops, the cells of bone marrow do not mature the way they should. Due to this, the immature cells continue to grow. Leaving this disease untreated can be life-threatening for a patient. And because it is acute, the disease spreads easily through the blood to other parts of the body. These include:
2. Lymph nodes
4. Spinal cord
For diagnosis of this disease, doctors conduct a test to see if your liver, spleen or the lymph nodes have swollen up or not. A blood test might also be conducted to check for anemia risk and for the determination of white blood cell levels. The most definitive way of diagnosing AML is a biopsy or a bone marrow test.
What are the causes and risk factors of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
Experts are not sure of the exact causes of genetic mutation of cells which turns healthy white blood cells into leukemia cells.
There are three main known causes of this disease which include:
1. Exposure to radiation
2. Exposure to benzene
People working in a nuclear industry are highly exposed to radiation and this increases their risk of developing AML.
But the risk factors, which make a person more prone to AML, are known to experts. These include:
1. Gender (men are more prone to the disease)
3. Exposure to radiation
4. Exposure to chemotherapy drugs when combined with radiation therapy
5. Blood disorders like chronic myelogenous leukemia
6. Exposure to cleaning drugs and detergents (those which contain benzene)
7. Birth defects like down syndrome
There is no sure-shot way of keeping AML at may, however, there are ways to reduce your risk like limiting exposure to chemicals, radiation and avoiding smoking.
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What are the symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
In the initial few stages, AML symptoms resemble a common cold or flu. Cold and flu symptoms could be accompanied by:
1. Bone pain
2. Shortness of breath
3. Unexplained weight loss
4. Excessive bleeding during periods (heavier than normal)
5. Swollen gums
6. Frequent nosebleeds
7. Night sweats
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8. Easy bruising
10. Loss of appetite
11. Sense of lightheadedness
13. Feeling cold
What are the treatment options for Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
Acute Myeloid Leukemia, sadly, is an incurable disease. However, patients can go through two stages of treatment which can help them lead a normal life.
These treatment options include:
1. Remission induction therapy to kill existing leukemia cells in the body. In this stage, certain anti-cancer drugs are used which prevent unhealthy cells from growing.
2. Consolidation therapy or the post-remission therapy to keep AML in remission and prevent a relapse. It aims at killing the remaining leukemia cells in the body.
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