The bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bones which forms blood cells. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. AML is the rapid progression of leukemia targeting a specific group of white blood cells known as myeloid cells. These cells mature and become the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
AML also known as acute myeloid leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.
AML develops due to genetic material or DNA mutation of the bone marrow cells. The mutated DNA instructs the bone marrow cells to keep growing and dividing until it’s out of control. The immature cells are then produced and developed into white blood cells named myeloblasts which cannot function correctly and outgrow healthy blood cells.
The signs and symptoms may look like other common diseases or flu which include:
- Anemia and pale skin
- Easily gets bruising or bleeding (e.g., nosebleed or bleeding gums)
- Gets infection frequently
- Bone pain
- Sleepiness and extreme tiredness
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
If these symptoms occur and it worries you, consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.
The following are the risk factors of developing AML:
- Old age. AML is common in older people starting at age 65.
- Sex. Men are at more risk than women.
- Previous cancer treatment. Previous treatment with specific types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Radiation exposure. High radiation level exposure (e.g., nuclear reactor hazard).
- Chemical exposure. Certain chemical exposure like benzene.
- Cigarettes contain benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals.
- Other blood disorders. Blood disorders including myelodysplasia, myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera or thrombocythemia.
- Genetic disorders. Having Down syndrome (a genetic disorder).