Acute Myeloid Leukemia—Child

(AML—Child; Acute Myelogenous Leukemia—Child; Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia—Child; Acute Granulocytic Leukemia—Child; Acute Nonlymphoblastic Leukemia—Child)

Definition

Leukemia is a type of cancer that develops in the bone marrow. With acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloid cells that are precursors to blood cells, including:
  • Myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell) that fight infection
  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen
  • Platelets that make blood clots and stop bleeding in cuts and bruises
The leukemia cells do not function normally. They cannot do what normal blood cells do, like fight infections. The abnormal cells also overgrow the bone marrow, forcing normal cells out. Without normal cells, anemia and bleeding problems develop. They also cannot fight infections properly.
White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells
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Causes

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. The term cancer refers to malignant growth of cells or tissue. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to the blood and other parts of the body.It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors

AML is more common in those of Hispanic descent. Other factors that may increase your child's risk of AML include:
  • Genetic factors:
    • Having a sibling, especially an identical twin, who develops leukemia
    • Having a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene, a chemical used in the cleaning and manufacturing industries
  • History of other blood disorders, such as polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, or myelodysplastic syndrome

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