Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a rapidly progressing cancer of the myeloid line of white blood cells. In AML, the myeloid white blood cells mutate and begin to rapidly replicate themselves. These harmful versions of the myeloid cells take residence in the bone marrow preventing healthy blood cells from being created. Since the body needs healthy red and white blood cells to fight infection and process oxygen, the destruction of these cells leads to heart damage, hypoxia and infection. Though there is chemotherapy treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, the survival rate is extremely low, with estimates of survival around the 20% mark.

The disease has no definitive cause, though there are a number of factors which can make occurance of the illness more likely. These include:

  • Down Syndrome

  • Preleukemic Blood Disorders

  • Exposure to Chemotherapy

  • Exposure to Radiation

One of the major issues with Myeloid Leukemia is that its symptoms are often subtle. Many victims feel run-down or have flu-like symptoms. Others may experience unusual bruising or swelling of the gums. However, this particular type of Leukemia is so rapid (with death occuring within weeks to months of onset without treatment) that the disease has often gotten to an advanced stage before it is noticed. People even die of the illness before being diagnosed.

This type of cancer is, thankfully, extremely rare. Only 1.2% of cancer deaths in the US are from Myeloid Leukemia.

Due to the aggressive and deadly nature of this sick, I rate it a:

8 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)

and a 7 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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