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Cancer Health Center

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Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Classification of Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia


With immunophenotyping, the blasts typically express one or more myeloid-associated antigens (CD13, CD33, and CD15). The differential diagnosis includes: RAEB in cases with a low blast percentage, AML without maturation when the blast percentage is high, and AMML in cases with increased monocytes.

Approximately 33% of karyotypically abnormal cases of AML with maturation are associated with t(8; 21)(q22;q22). (Refer to the Acute myeloid leukemia with characteristic genetic abnormalities section of the Classification section of this summary for more information.)[14] Such cases have a favorable prognosis. Rare cases with t(6; 9)(q23; q34) are reported to have a poor prognosis.[57,62]

Acute promyelocytic leukemia [AML with t(15; 17)(q22; q12); (PML/RARA) and variants] (FAB Classification M3)

(Refer to the Acute promyelocytic leukemia (FAB Classification M3) section of the Acute Myeloid Leukemia With Characteristic Genetic Abnormalities section of this summary for more information.)

Acute myelomonocytic leukemia (FAB Classification M4)

Acute myelomonocytic leukemia (AMML) is characterized by the proliferation of neutrophil and monocyte precursors. Patients usually present with anemia and thrombocytopenia. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Fatigue for more information on anemia.) This classification of AML comprises approximately 15% to 25% of cases of AML, and some patients have a previous history of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). (Refer to the PDQ summary on Myelodysplastic/ Myeloproliferative Neoplasms for more information.) This type of AML occurs more commonly in older individuals.[57]

Morphologic and cytochemical features include the following:

  • 20% or more blasts in the bone marrow.
  • 20% or more neutrophils, monocytes, and their precursors in the bone marrow (to distinguish AMML from AML with or without maturation and to increase monocytes).
  • 5 x 109 /L or more monocytes in the blood.
  • Large monoblasts with round nuclei, abundant cytoplasm, and prominent nucleoli.
  • MPO positivity in at least 3% of blasts.
  • Monoblasts, promonocytes, and monocytes typically nonspecific esterase (NSE)-positive.

Immunophenotyping generally reveals monocytic differentiation markers (CD14, CD4, CD11b, CD11c, CD64, and CD36) and lysozyme. The differential diagnosis includes AML with maturation and acute monocytic leukemia.

Most cases of AMML exhibit nonspecific cytogenetic abnormalities.[57] Some cases may have a 11q23 genetic abnormality. Cases with increased abnormal eosinophils in the bone marrow associated with a chromosome 16 abnormality have a favorable prognosis. (Refer to the Acute myeloid leukemia with characteristic genetic abnormalities section of the Classification section of this summary for more information.)

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