AML is basically a type of cancer of blood which affects white blood cells called myeloid cells . It causes abnormally high production of cells by the bone marrow. This overproduction of white blood cells stops the production of normal cells like white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
There are different types of AML and their treatments depend on several factors which include:
- Maturity of the cancer cells at the time of diagnosis
- Patient’s health
Once these factors are determined, patients are asked to take several tests including those for bone marrow , X-rays and ultrasound in order to determine the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. After this, AML treatment starts.
AML treatment occurs in two stages:
- 1. Induction chemotherapy
- 2. Consolidation chemotherapy
In induction therapy, the goal is to kill cancerous leukemia cells however if any of the cells are left, they are destroyed in consolidation therapy. The induction therapy prevents the re-growth of leukemia cells. Another type of Chemotherapy that is “Intrathecal” is used to treat acute leukemia that has spread to the brain and spinal cord.
Other therapies used for AML treatment are:
- Radiation therapy
- Stem cell transplant
- Targeted therapy
Radiation therapy uses the energy rays like X-rays and Gamma rays to destroy cancerous leukemia cells in the blood and the bone marrow. On the other hand, stem cell transplant removes the damaged cells from the body and replaces it with proper functioning cells. The cells are either taken from a donor; Allogeneic transplant or from within patient’s own; Autologous transplant. Although these transplants carry considerable risk but also long term remission of the leukemia cells.
Targeted therapy uses drugs to identify and destroy abnormal cells but has no effect on the normal body cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy is one of the targeted therapies used for AML treatment and these antibodies are produced in the laboratory for the specific function.
Last but not the least, AML treatment should be considered as soon as AML is diagnosed. Any delays can lead to the spread of cancerous leukemia cells to other body parts. Even after the AML treatment, patient should go for regular checkups in order to avoid re-growth of cancerous cells.