This section is for teenagers and young adults. It is about a type of cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The other main type of leukaemia that can affect teenagers and young adults is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. If you have a different type of leukaemia and want to know more, please contact us.
Our section on leukaemia in general has information about AML for people of all ages. It also has information about other types of leukaemia that are more common in older people.
Knowing a bit about how the body makes blood cells can help you understand leukaemia and its treatment. It might help to watch this short animation on how your blood works.
Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. Normally, white blood cells divide and grow in a controlled way. In leukaemia, this process goes out of control. Most people with AML make too many immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts (sometimes called blasts). In some less common types of AML, too many immature platelets or red blood cells are also made. As the blasts do not mature, they cannot do the jobs that healthy blood cells do.
The immature blood cells (blasts) fill up the bone marrow This means there isn’t enough space to make all the healthy white cells, red cells and platelets your body needs. The body needs these cells to:
- help us fight infection (white cells)
- carry oxygen from the lungs around our body (red blood cells)
- help blood to clot to stop us bleeding and bruising (platelets).