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Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of primitive white blood cells in the bone marrow. It is the most common type of acute leukemia seen in adults, accounting for 80 percent of such cases. There are two major types:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Non-APL Characterized by the overproduction of primitive myeloid cells called blasts, resulting in reduced production of neutrophils (infection-fighting white blood cells), red blood cells and platelets. The prognosis of this form of AML depends on the presence (and type) or absence of chromosome changes in the leukemia cells. It is treated with chemotherapy.
  • M3 – Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) Characterized by the presence of atypical promyelocytes in the bone marrow and peripheral blood, this type of leukemia can be associated with severe bleeding. A translocation between chromosomes 15 and 17 commonly occurs and suggests a better prognosis. This condition represents approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of AML cases. It is treated with chemotherapy, a vitamin A derivative called ATRA, and arsenic.

Our Approach to Acute Myeloid Leukemia

UCSF is dedicated to delivering the most advanced treatment options for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with care and compassion. All patients begin with an extensive evaluation, including a special chromosome analysis called cytogenetic testing. The results can reveal important information that helps us determine the best course of treatment. Typically, patients receive two rounds of chemotherapy and, in some cases, a stem cell transplant.

Our team is highly skilled at providing intensive supportive care to address side effects and protect patients from infection and other risks during treatment. We also have expertise in performing autologous stem cell transplantation, which uses cells collected from the patient, for higher-risk cases.

We are dedicated to discovering better treatments for AML through research. Interested patients may have the option to participate in clinical trials of potential new therapies.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • Best in Northern California for cancer care (tie)

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.