Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Overview

AML is a potentially curable hematologic malignancy that stems from immature myeloid progenitor cells, known as blasts.1 Most cases of AML arise de novo (from no known cause).2

  • As these leukemic blasts multiply, they overwhelm the bone marrow, impairing the production and functions of normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets1

Other cases of AML can develop from prior hematologic disorders or from previous exposure to cytotoxic therapy or radiation.2

  • Normal hematopoietic stem cells mature and differentiate into lymphoid or myeloid cells. Leukemia is a cancer of the early blood-forming myeloid cells. Most often, leukemia is a cancer of early white blood cell precursors, but some leukemias involve other blood cells3:
    • Erythroid leukemia is a rare AML subtype that initiates in immature red blood cells4
    • Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia is a cancer of immature platelet-forming cells that is most often seen in pediatric patients5

References: 1. Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. https://www.lls.org/leukemia/acute-myeloid-leukemia. Accessed April 22, 2021. 2. Grove CS, Vassiliou GS. Acute myeloid leukaemia: a paradigm for the clonal evolution of cancer? Dis Model Mech. 2014;7(8):941-951. 3. What Is Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)? American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/acute-myeloid-leukemia/about/what-is-aml.html. Updated August 21, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2021. 4. Latif N, Salazar E, Khan R, Villas B, Rana F. The pure erythroleukemia: a case report and literature review. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol. 2010;8(4):283-290. 5. Gruber TA, Downing JR. The biology of pediatric acute megakaryoblastic leukemia. Blood. 2015;126(8):943‐949.