What is acute myelogenous leukemia?
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), also called acute myeloid leukemia or acute myelocytic leukemia, is the second most common blood cancer in children. There are several subtypes of AML.
Each AML subtype starts in the young cells that form normal mature blood cells. One subtype, acute promyelocytic leukemia, is treated differently than the other types of AML.
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Treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia
Treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia usually begins by addressing the signs and symptoms your child has, such as anemia, bleeding and/or infection. In addition, treatment for leukemia may include some or all of the following:
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy refers to medicines that help fight cancer. They are given by mouth, in the vein, in the muscle or under the skin. Intrathecal chemotherapy is chemotherapy that is injected into the spinal fluid to prevent or treat leukemia in the brain and spinal cord.
- Blood and marrow transplantation. Blood and marrow transplantation consists of three steps: 1) collection of healthy stem cells from a donor without cancer or from the patient; 2) administration of high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation therapy to kill any remaining leukemia cells; and 3) infusion of the healthy stem cells through an intravenous line to produce normal blood-forming cells. Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation is commonly used to treat ALL that has not responded to chemotherapy.
- Blood transfusions. Blood transfusions are sometimes used for patients who have anemia who cannot make their own red blood cells. Platelets are commonly transfused when platelet counts are low. White blood cells are occasionally transfused to treat severe infections that do not respond to antibiotics. Plasma, the fluid part of blood in which the blood cells are suspended, is transfused in patients who are not able to make the proteins that clot the blood.
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to prevent or treat infections.
Treatment of pediatric AML takes six to nine months and involves three or four courses of chemotherapy and may also involve stem cell transplantation.