AML Facts

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Facts

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the second most common type of leukemia in children, accounting for about 20 percent of all childhood leukemia cases. The first is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). AML forms in the bone marrow. These cancerous cells divide rapidly and do not die easily. They eventually crowd out normal, healthy blood cells and prevent them from being produced. AML can accumulate in the blood stream and organs such as the lymph nodes, brain, liver, kidneys, ovaries, testicles, and skin. If AML forms a tumor it is called a chloroma.


The World Health Organization (WHO) classification for AML subtypes is:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia with recurrent genetic abnormalities
    • Aute myeloid leukemia with t(8;21)(q22;q22), AML1/ETO)
    • Acute myeloid leukemia with abnormal bone marrow eosinophils and inv(16)(p13q22) or t(16;16)(p13;q22), (CBFß/MYH11)
    • Acute promyelocytic leukemia with t(15;17)(q22;q12), (PML/RARa) and variants
    • Acute myeloid leukemia with 11q23 (MLL) abnormalities
  • Acute myeloid leukemia with multilineage dysplasia
    • Following MDS or MDS/MPD
    • Without antecedent MDS or MDS/MPD, but with dysplasia in at least 50% of cells in 2 or more myeloid lineages
  • Acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, therapy related
    • Alkylating agent/radiation-related type
    • Topoisomerase II inhibitor-related type (some may be lymphoid)
    • Others
  • Acute myeloid leukemia, not otherwise categorized
    • Acute myeloid leukemia, minimally differentiated (previously called M0)
    • Acute myeloid leukemia without maturation (previously called M1)
    • Acute myeloid leukemia with maturation (previously called M2)
    • Acute myelomonocytic leukemia (previously called M4)
    • Acute monoblastic/acute monocytic leukemia (previously called M5)
    • Acute erythroid leukemia (erythroid/myeloid and pure erythroleukemia) (previously called M6)
    • Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (previously called M7)
    • Acute basophilic leukemia
    • Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis
    • Myeloid sarcoma

Data provided by American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Risk Factors

Doctors do not know what causes AML in children. Some children with Down Syndrome are at risk for the first three years of life, but it is not known why. Children who have a sibling with AML, especially twins, are at higher risk for AML.  

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Many of the early signs of AML are similar to the flu or other common diseases. Diagnosis of AML can only be made by a thorough physical examination and several blood and bone marrow tests.


Understanding medical terminology is the first step to understanding what your disease is all about and the treatment options you are facing.