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Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

What is acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)?

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer where myeloid cells in your bone marrow make too many monocytes and granulocytes (types of white blood cell). These damaged cell fill up your bone marrow, preventing it from producing all types of healthy blood cells.

ALL is an acute condition, which means it develops quickly and needs treatment as soon as possible – sometimes within days or weeks.

You can find out more about AML, including symptoms, diagnosis and treatments, on the Leukaemia Care and Blood Cancer UK websites.

Facts about AML

  • Around 3,000 people are diagnosed with AML each year in the UK.
  • AML is more common in people over the age of 70.
  • There are different types of AML – your symptoms will depend on the type you have, the number of leukaemia cells in your body, and where they are.
  • AML is the most common reason for having an allograft transplant in the UK.
  • There were 489 stem cell transplants in the UK to treat ALL in 2020.

AML and stem cell transplants

If you have AML, it is likely that you’ll need to start treatment quickly after you’re diagnosed. You’ll normally be offered chemotherapy as your main treatment option, although this can vary because certain types of AML are treated differently.

Normally, after chemotherapy, your doctors will consider further treatment to stop the AML coming back. A high dose of chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant, may be the best way to stop the cancer coming back.

Most transplants for AML are allogeneic transplants – when stem cells are donated to you by someone else. It’s very rare for ALL to be treated with an autologous transplant – when doctors use your own stem cells. This is usually only considered if a stem cell donor cannot be found and your medical team decides it’s a better option than other non-curative treatments.

Since my transplant, I feel that life is definitely for living. I try not to waste one moment of it anymore.

Harun, who received a stem cell transplant to treat his AML when he was 23.

Information published: 16/02/22
Next review due: 16/02/23

Related links

Preparing for a stem cell transplant

Having a stem cell transplant

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