AML (also called acute myelogenous leukemia, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, or ANLL) is cancer of the blood cells. The cancer cells are those that would otherwise develop into granulocytes and monocytes. Because treatments for AML and ALL are very different, it is crucial that sophisticated laboratory studies are performed on the bone marrow samples to determine whether your child has AML or ALL.
Eight thousand cases of AML are diagnosed in the US each year, most often in adults over 50. Approximately 500 children are diagnosed with AML in the US every year, with almost equal numbers of boys and girls. AML accounts for approximately 20 percent of all cases of childhood leukemia.
There are eight different subtypes of AML (M0 to M7) based on appearance of the diseased cells under the microscope and certain genetic characteristics.
• M0: acute undifferentiated leukemia (less than 3 percent)
• M1: acute myeloblastic leukemia without maturation (20 percent)
• M2: acute myeloblastic leukemia with maturation (30 percent)
• M3: acute promyelocytic leukemia (AProL or APL with 15;17 translocation) (5 to 10 percent)
• M4: acute myelomonocytic leukemia (AMML) (25 to 30 percent)
• M5: acute monocytic leukemia (AMoL) (15 to 20 percent)
• M5a: AMoL without differentiation (monoblastic)
• M5b: AMoL with differentiation
• M6: erythroleukemia (less than 5 percent)
• M7: acute megakaryocytic leukemia (5 to 10 percent)
My 6-year-old daughter had been getting bad headaches. The school would call me to pick her up, and she would throw up all the way home. She had an appointment with the optometrist who noticed an odd-looking vein in her eye and that she looked pale and had some bruising. He recommended taking her in for blood work. We did, and she was diagnosed with AML type M2.
Approximately 80 percent of children less than 2 years old with AML have M4 or M5 subtypes. M7 leukemia is the most frequent form of AML in children with Downs syndrome who are less than 3 years old at the time of diagnosis.
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