Understanding Acute Myeloid Leukaemia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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  • Added: February 23, 2024

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Introduction

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. It is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells that crowd out healthy blood cells. AML can be a challenging diagnosis to receive, but understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help patients and their loved ones navigate this difficult journey.

Causes of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

The exact cause of AML is often unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified. These include:

  • Exposure to high levels of radiation
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation treatment for another cancer
  • Genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome
  • Smoking

It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee the development of AML. Many people with AML have no known risk factors.

Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

The symptoms of AML can vary from person to person, and some people may not experience any symptoms in the early stages. However, common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Joint or bone pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing AML typically involves a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, and bone marrow biopsies. Once diagnosed, the treatment options will depend on several factors, including the patient’s age, overall health, and specific genetic mutations present in the cancer cells.

Common treatment options for AML include:

  • Chemotherapy: This is the most common treatment for AML and involves the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: This type of treatment targets specific genetic mutations in the cancer cells.
  • Stem cell transplant: Also known as a bone marrow transplant, this procedure involves replacing the diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.

It is important to work closely with a healthcare team to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for each individual case.

Living with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Living with AML can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. It is important for patients to take care of their overall health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise (if approved by their healthcare team), and managing stress levels. Support from loved ones and joining support groups can also be beneficial in coping with the emotional impact of the disease.

Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals are crucial to monitor the progress of treatment and manage any potential side effects. It is important for patients to communicate openly with their healthcare team and ask any questions or voice any concerns they may have.

Conclusion

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia is a complex and challenging disease, but with advancements in medical treatments and ongoing research, there is hope for improved outcomes. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can empower patients and their loved ones to make informed decisions and seek the support they need throughout their journey with AML.

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