What is acute myeloid leukaemia?
AML is a rare type of cancer. It can affect people at any age but is more common in people over 65. Around 2,500 people are diagnosed with AML each year in the UK.
Normally, blood cells are made in the bone marrow in an orderly and controlled way. In people with AML, this process gets out of control and many abnormal leukaemia cells are made. These immature cells aren’t able to develop into normal functioning blood cells.
In AML, too many early myeloid cells are made. In most types of AML, the leukaemia cells are immature white blood cells. In some less common types of AML, too many immature platelets or immature red blood cells are made.
The immature cells fill up the bone marrow, taking up space that’s needed to make normal blood cells. Some leukaemia cells ‘spill over’ into the blood and circulate around the body in the bloodstream. These leukaemia cells don’t mature, so don’t work properly. This leads to an increased risk of infection, as well as symptoms such as anaemia and bruising caused by fewer healthy red blood cells and platelets being made.