Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

What Is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a form of cancer that develops in the blood cells of the bone marrow.

Also known as acute myeloid leukemia, this type of blood cancer originates in the myelocytes, called myeloblasts or blasts, which are most often early forms of white blood cells. In some cases, they can also be early red blood cells or megakaryocytes.

As the leukemia cells grow, they can crowd out the normal cells in the bone marrow. This inhibits the diversity of blood cells and decreases red blood cell counts. As a result, people with acute myelogenous leukemia have too many white blood cells in their blood. These white blood cells are not normal and do not fight against infection, which makes people with AML more prone to infections.

AML can also deplete platelets, which can lead to excess bleeding or bruising. AML tends to grow fast and needs to be treated right away.

Learn more about acute myelogenous leukemia symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Care

State-of-the-Art Cancer Treatment

RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meets the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, blood and marrow transplants, targeted therapy and access to clinical trials.

Logos of The Rutgers Cancer Center of New Jersey-Rutgers Health and NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center

New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We are New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized hematologists/oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer with expertise in blood cancers.

Oncology Nurse Navigators Guide You Through Your AML Journey

Nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures, and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Symptoms

Symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia may include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abnormal bruising and bleeding
  • Fatigue, weakness, tiredness
  • Frequent and recurring infections

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Diagnosis

If you have AML symptoms, your doctor will conduct a thorough medical history, gathering important information regarding how long you have had symptoms, what types of symptoms you have had, and if you have been exposed to any risk factors.

If AML is suspected, your doctor may order any of the following tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Blood Tests. A complete blood test (CBT) is used to determine how many red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are present. A peripheral blood smear examines white blood cell quantity, shape, and size and looks for immature white blood cells called blasts.
  • Bone Marrow Tests. A needle is used to remove a small sample of bone marrow from the hipbone or breastbone. The sample is sent to the laboratory and examined for leukemia cells, categorizing them based on their size, shape, and molecular features.
  • Lumbar Puncture Test (Spinal Tap). Used to determine if cancer has spread to the brain and spinal cord.A needle is inserted into the spinal canal and cerebrospinal fluid is aspirated for testing.
  • Imaging Tests. An X-ray, CT scan or ultrasound may be ordered to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

AML Types

There are several types of acute myelogenous leukemia. They differ depending on what type of cells leukemia starts in, and the maturity of the cells. The main AML types include:

  • Undifferentiated acute myelogenous leukemia
  • Myeloblastic leukemia with minimal maturation
  • Myeloblastic leukemia with maturation
  • Promyelocytic leukemia
  • Myelomonocytic leukemia
  • Myelomonocytic leukemia with eosinophilia
  • Monocytic leukemia
  • Erythroid leukemia
  • Megakaryoblastic leukemia

AML Treatment

Our compassionate team of oncologists and cancer specialists will work with you to create a personalized care plan that empowers you to continue with your normal routine.

A care plan for AML depends on:

  • The type of acute myelogenous leukemia
  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Personal preferences

Acute myelogenous leukemia treatment can be divided into two phases:

  1. Remission Induction Therapy. The goal during this phase is to kill leukemia cells. Not all cells are usually able to be killed, so patients typically need further treatment to prevent leukemia recurrence.
  1. Consolidation Therapy. The goal during this phase is to kill the remaining leukemia cells. This phase may also be referred to as “post-remission therapy” or “maintenance therapy.”

Treatment options used during each phase may include:

  • Chemotherapy. Chemicals are used to kill cancer cells. It is usually the main treatment option in remission induction therapy, although it may still be used in consolidation therapy.
  • Targeted Therapy. Drugs are used to block receptors that cancer cells need to grow. It can be used with chemotherapy in the remission induction phase and the consolidation phase.
  • Stem Cell Transplant. This may be performed in the consolidation phase. During the procedure, cancerous stem cells are replaced with healthy ones, which then regenerate healthy bone marrow.

In some cases, clinical trials may be offered to provide access to new treatment options that are not available anywhere else.

View Leukemia Clinical Trials

Facts About Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia makes up about 1 percent of cancers.
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia usually occurs in adults, making up 31 percent of adult leukemia diagnoses. Overall, it is the second most common type of leukemia diagnosed in adults and children.
  • The average age of diagnosis is 68, although it can be diagnosed at any age.
  • The 5-year acute myelogenous leukemia survival rate for patients age 20 and older is 26 percent.
  • The 5-year acute myelogenous leukemia survival rate for patients younger than age 20 is 68 percent.

Although it is a serious disease, acute myelogenous leukemia can be curable with the right modern treatment options.

Questions? Contact Us

Your team at RWJBarnabas Health is here to address any questions or concerns that you might have. We will help you understand how you will feel and function during and after treatment, and if you will have to change any of your normal activities.

Together, you and your RWJBarnabas Health care team will craft a treatment plan that is right for you.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best blood cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Patient Stories

  • "They have an outstanding group of compassionate professionals.”

    Read More
  • “I have a sign in my kitchen that reads, ‘Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.’ And I truly am.”

    Read More
  • "[The lump] scared the daylights out of me."

    Read More

Patient Stories

  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial