What is Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
Acute myeloid leukemia is a form of blood cancer which results due to abnormal growth of the bone marrow cells. Bone marrow cells are supposed to develop into mostly white-blood cells but due to a condition they fail to do so and the cells continue to grow abnormally in an unnatural number.
These immature cells are also known as ‘blast cells’ and these cells are known to spread to other parts of the body, such as lymph nodes, liver, spleen, testicles, brain and the spinal cord through the blood vessels.
What are the causes of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
These are some of the factors that increase the chances of acute myeloid leukemia in a person:
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals such as benzene as well as some detergents, paint strippers and cleaning products.
- Certain chemotherapy drugs combined with radiation therapy.
- High radiation exposure.
- Some blood disorders (chronic myelogenous leukemia).
- Some congenital conditions (Down syndrome).
What are the signs and symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
These are some of the more commonly seen signs and symptoms that indicate towards acute mueloid leukemia:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Recurring fever
- Shortage of red blood cells causes – Shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling cold, fatigue and constant weakness.
- Shortage of normal white blood cells causes – Recurring fever and constant infection.
- Shortage of blood platelets causes – Excessive bruising, frequent nose-bleeds, bleeding in gums and excessive bleeding from even minor cuts.
- Bone/joint pain
- Leukemia cells in the spleen and liver may cause a swollen belly.
- Rashes or lumps on the skin.
- Blurred vision, seizures, vomiting and difficulty in maintaining balance.
- Lymph nodes may become enlarged.
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How is Acute Myeloid Leukemia treated?
The treatment method of an acute myeloid leukemia depends upon the type of leukemia and certain other factors. The doctor will suggest the most effective form of treatment after a complete and extensive diagnosis.
These are the types of treatment that the doctor suggests to treat acute myeloid leukemia:
Chemotherapy helps in fighting and restricting the spread of acute myeloid leukemia by using a combination of different drugs.
Ultra-high radiation might be suggested for cases with leukemia of the brain, testicles or the bones. Radiation therapy is also used before a stem cell transplant and to decrease the tumor size in the windpipe.
Bone marrow transplant
This requires using high doses of chemotherapy, sometimes, combined with radiation therapy. This is done before the patient undergoes a transplant of bone-making stem cells.
The doctor/oncologist aims to achieve subsidence of acute myeloid leukemia through destroying maximum number of acute myeloid leukemia cells, achieving normal blood count eventually and by getting rid of the signs of the disease from the body.