Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of bones that produces blood cells. In AML, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that do not function properly. This leads to a buildup of these cells in the blood, which can interfere with the production of normal blood cells and cause a range of symptoms.
Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Fatigue and weakness: One of the most common symptoms of AML is fatigue and weakness, which can result from a decreased production of red blood cells. This can lead to a lack of energy and difficulty with daily activities.
Anemia: AML can also cause anemia, which is a condition where there is not enough red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Symptoms of anemia include pale skin, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Bleeding and Bruising: The lack of platelets in the blood, which are needed for blood clotting, can result in easy bleeding and bruising. This can also lead to frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and heavy menstrual periods.
Infections: AML can also lead to a decreased production of white blood cells, which are needed to fight infections. This can result in frequent infections and a decreased ability to fight off illness.
Painful bones or joints: AML can affect the bone marrow, which can cause pain in the bones or joints.
Swelling of the gums and face: AML can also cause swelling in the gums and face, which is often caused by a buildup of abnormal white blood cells in these areas.
Abnormal weight loss: AML can cause rapid and significant weight loss in some individuals.
Treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia
The treatment for AML depends on several factors, including the patient’s age, overall health, and the specific type of AML. There are several treatment options for AML, including:
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. This is a common treatment for AML and is usually given as a series of injections over a period of several weeks.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is a type of treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. This is not commonly used as a standalone treatment for AML, but may be used in combination with chemotherapy.
Stem cell transplant: A stem cell transplant is a type of treatment that replaces the patient’s damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells from a donor. This can be an effective treatment for AML, but is a complex and risky procedure.
Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to target specific proteins or genetic changes that are driving the cancer. This type of treatment is becoming more common for AML and can be used in combination with chemotherapy.
Clinical trials: Patients with AML may also have the option of participating in a clinical trial, which is a research study that tests new treatments or drugs. This can provide access to cutting-edge treatments and can be an effective way to manage the disease.
In conclusion, AML is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, causing a range of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, anemia, and infections. The treatment for AML depends on several factors, including the patient’s age, overall health, and the specific type of AML.