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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC


Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

What Is AML?

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is a disease in which there is cancerous overgrowth of immature blood cells within the bone marrow and blood. This leads to impairment in the production of the normal blood components - red cells, white cells and platelets. This results in many of the symptoms seen at the time of diagnosis including fatigue, fever, night sweats, easy bruising or unusual bleeding.

In adults, AML is more common than Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), accounting for 80% of acute leukemias.

AML Classification

AML is most frequently sub-classified into eight well-defined variants, M0 to M7. All of the variants, with the exception of M3 AML, are initially treated the same way. The most important feature of each individual's AML is the presence and nature of the chromosomal abnormalities within the leukemia cells.

Some abnormalities are known to predict a better outcome. These include inversion of chromosome 16 or translocation between chromosomes 8 and 21.

Some abnormalities are associated with a below average treatment success rate. These include changes involving chromosome 7, the long arm of chromosome 3 or when there are five or more abnormalities of any kind.

It is the chromosomal content of a patient's AML cells as well as the patient's age, white cell count at the time of diagnosis and initial response to chemotherapy that will determine the specific treatment recommended for each patient with AML.


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