Leukemia--Acute Myeloid (Myelogenous)

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Treating Leukemia - Acute Myeloid (AML) TOPICS

How is acute myeloid leukemia treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information about acute myeloid leukemia

This section starts with general comments about types of treatments used for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This is followed by a discussion of the typical treatment approach for AML. The treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is different from other subtypes, and is discussed separately.

As noted earlier, adult AML is not a single disease. It is really a group of related diseases, and patients with different subtypes of AML vary in their outlook and response to treatment. Treatment options for each patient are based on the subtype and lab tests of the leukemia cells, as well as certain other prognostic features (described in the section called “How is acute myeloid leukemia classified?”).

Several types of treatment may be used for people with AML. The main treatment for AML is chemotherapy, sometimes followed by a stem cell transplant. Other drugs (besides standard chemotherapy drugs) may also be used to treat people with acute promyelocytic leukemia. Surgery and radiation therapy may be used in special circumstances. See the “Additional resources for acute myeloid leukemia” section for other, more detailed materials on the different types of cancer treatments and their side effects.

In most cases AML can progress rapidly, so it is important to start treatment as soon as possible after the diagnosis is made.

Last Medical Review: 07/24/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014