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Cancer Health Center

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

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Symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned below, it's important to have a doctor check them out right away to determine the cause.

AML can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. Since the symptoms are often vague, they could be caused by other conditions. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Night sweats

Many symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia are the result of a shortage of normal blood cells. That's because leukemia cells crowd out normal cells in the bone marrow.

A shortage of red blood cells may cause symptoms of anemia including:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling cold
  • Light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath

A shortage of normal white blood cells may result in:

  • Recurring infections
  • Fevers

A shortage of blood platelets may cause symptoms such as

  • Lots of bruising for no clear reason
  • Frequent or severe nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or other unusual bleeding such as from minor cuts

Depending upon where leukemia cells are present, other symptoms may include:

  • Bone or joint pain
  • A full or swollen belly from leukemia cells in the liver or spleen
  • Lumps or rashes in the skin
  • Swollen, painful, bleeding gums
  • Headache, trouble with balance, vomiting, seizures, or blurred vision
  • Enlarged lymph nodes such as in the neck or groin, under arms, or above the collarbone (rare)

 

Treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Because AML is a group of related diseases, treatment depends upon each subtype as well as on other factors. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis.

You may have more than one type of treatment, including:

  • Chemotherapy, the use of anticancer drugs -- often two or three -- such as cytarabine, anthracycline drugs, 6-thioguanine, hydroxyurea, or prednisone.
  • Radiation therapy, the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. This is not used often for AML but may be used to treat leukemia in the brain, bone, or testicles; before a stem cell transplant; or, in rare cases, to shrink a tumor that's pressing on the windpipe.
  • A bone marrow transplant, which involves use of high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation, followed by a transplant of bone-forming stem cells. Stem cells usually come from a donor. Or, less likely, they come from your own bone marrow or peripheral blood. If you cannot tolerate high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, lower doses may be used with a "mini-transplant."

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