Acute Myeloid Leukemia Symptoms

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a subtype of leukemia in which immature blood cells fail to mature and therefore fail to carry out their normal functions.

This disease also goes by the following very similar-sounding names:

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia
  • Acute myelocytic leukemia
  • Acute myeloblastic leukemia
  • Acute granulocytic leukemia

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Symptoms

Most of the symptoms associated with acute myeloid leukemia are known as "non-specific symptoms," meaning that they are not exclusive to this disease. Having one of them does not mean a person has AML. Rather, these non-specific symptoms can be found in a host of other diseases and disorders:

  • Pale skin
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Petechiae (pinhead-size red spots) under the skin
  • An inability or staggered ability to heal from minor cuts
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Shortness of breath when carrying out normal everyday things
  • Mild unexplained fever
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen gums
  • Frequent minor infections
  • Unexplained loss of appetite, subsequent weight loss
  • Aching in bones or joints
  • Discomfort coming from the upper left side of the stomach

This last symptom might indicate a swollen spleen, something a doctor can determine through clinical exam.

A host of these symptoms does not mean one has developed acute myeloid leukemia. Following an exam by a physician, a patient suspected of having AML will likely require some blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy, and finally, confirmation from a pathologist, who uses several lab techniques to determine the specifics of a cancer.

There are approximately 14,000 new diagnoses of AML in the United States each year. It is generally a disease that affects older people, since the median age at diagnosis is 66. It is an aggressive disease that requires immediate treatment following diagnosis.

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