Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
About the condition
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an uncommon type of cancer. Around 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. AML can develop at any age, but it’s more common in people over the age of 60.
AML starts in the bone marrow but most often it quickly moves into the blood as well. It can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and testicles.
The symptoms of AML usually develop over a few weeks becoming more severe as the number of immature white blood cells (blast cells) in your blood increases. Symptoms of AML can include:
- feeling tired or weak
- frequent infections
- unusual and frequent bruising or bleeding, such as bleeding gums or nosebleeds
- losing weight without trying to
If any of these symptoms apply to you, or if you have any concerns about similar symptoms, it is essential that you see your doctor at once, as your chances of recovery are much higher if your cancer is diagnosed early. Alternatively you can book an appointment with one of our specialists by completing this form online or by calling 020 8247 3351.
If you are referred to CCL for diagnosis, your consultant or oncologist will advise you on which tests are relevant for your individual symptoms. There are a variety of different tests used to diagnose AML, which include:
- A blood test to check for AML indicators such as a high number of abnormal white blood cells, or a very low blood count in the test sample
- A bone marrow biopsy, during which a haematologist will take a small sample of bone marrow to examine under a microscope
- Cytogenetic testing, which involves identifying the genetic make-up of the cancerous cells
- Immunophenotyping: a test to help identify the exact type of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- A CT scan which shows a 3D image of the area being looked at
- An X-ray which is when low level radiation is used to create an image of the body
- A lumbar puncture, where a needle is used to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds and protects your spine) from your back. The fluid is tested to determine whether leukaemia has reached your nervous system, and this test is carried out using local anaesthetic
AML is an aggressive condition that develops rapidly, so treatment will usually begin a few days after a diagnosis has been confirmed. At CCL, patients with AML are treated by a team of different specialists from our Haemato-Oncology department, headed by Professor Ray Powles, CBE. This team works together to create a treatment plan to suit the individual needs of the patient.
Chemotherapy is the main treatment for AML. It’s used to kill as many leukaemia cells in your body as possible and reduce the risk of the condition coming back (relapsing).
At CCL we provide support that caters to both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, before, during and after treatment.
We offer a wide range of services for patients, as well as their loved ones, designed to make a very difficult time as easy as possible, and to give our patients the best treatment and support possible. Our support services include counselling, group sessions and much more. You can find the full range of our support services here. We’ll be with you every step of the way.
If you have any questions about AML or would like to book an appointment with one of our AML specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Consultants