Acute myeloid leukemia is a type of cancer that develops in blood cells. Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML for short, goes by many names including acute myelogenous leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute myelocytic leukemia.
This life-threatening cancer often starts to form in cells that would normally become white blood cells. However, acute myeloid leukemia can target other blood cells in addition to white blood cells. In most cases, acute myeloid leukemia also begins to develop in the bone marrow, which affects the growth of cells in the marrow. AML is incurable but effectively treatable, especially diagnosed early.
Where Does AML spread?
Without proper care and treatment, this type of leukemia spreads to other organs and tissues at a faster rate than other types. Acute myeloid lymphoma most commonly spreads to the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, spine, and brain. Because cancer affects every individual differently, the treatment always varies patient to patient.
Understanding Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatments
Acute myeloid leukemia treatment is case specific and determined based on factors such as the type and stage of leukemia, the overall health of the patient, and their age as people under 60 often respond to treatments better. Typically, acute myeloid leukemia treatment is composed of two stages: remission induction and consolidation therapies.
First Stage: Remission Induction
Remission induction targets and kills the leukemia cells present in the bone marrow and bloodstream. In many cases, remission induction therapy alone is not enough to eliminate all leukemia cells, which is why it is often the first phase of AML treatment.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used while the patient undergoes consolidation, aka post-remission therapy, to destroy more cancer cells, using drugs such as cytarabine and cladribine.
Promyelocytic, a subtype of leukemia, usually requires the use of anticancer medications such arsenic trioxide or retinoic acid in combination with remission induction therapy. During the first phase of the treatment, these drugs specifically prevent the replication and growth of mutated cancer cells.
Second Stage: Post-remission
Post-remission, also known as consolidation therapy, is the second phase of the treatment. Post-remission is known as the maintenance of remission while the treatment eliminates the remaining leukemia cells. However, people only undergo post-remission therapy if they are, in fact, in remission. Post-remission therapy also lowers the risk of recurrence. In some cases, some patients may need a bone marrow transplant while undergoing post-remission therapy, which restores healthy cells in the bone marrow to improve healthy regrowth.
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