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Signs & Symptoms Cancer

Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Signs and Symptoms

Typically AML comes on suddenly, within days or weeks. Less often, a patient has been ill for a few months or may have a prior history of Myelodysplastic Syndrome.

AML makes people sick primarily by interfering with normal bone marrow function. The leukemia cells replace and crowd out the normal cells of the bone marrow, thereby causing low blood cell counts. This insufficient number of red blood cells results in a condition called anemia, which causes a person to be tired and pale. Lack of platelets can make you more susceptible to bleeding and bruising, especially in the skin, nose and gums.

Lowered levels of normal white blood cells increase the risk of infection. Although infections can be of any type, typical symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Pain with urinating
  • Diarrhea, occasionally
  • Infections of the bloodstream, called sepsis, and pneumonia are the most dangerous

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.