What is Acute Myoblastic Leukemia (AML)?
Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. In a healthy child, bone marrow makes white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. White blood cells fight infection, red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body and platelets help the blood clot. When a child has leukemia bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells grow quickly and do not stop growing like normal white blood cells. They don’t fight infection like normal blood cells and eventually overcrowd normal cells we need. This leads to problems such as: anemia (low iron in the blood), bleeding and infections. Acute Myoblastic Leukemia (AML) affects white blood cells called myeloid cells. Myeloid cells are immature and normally develop into different types of blood cells. Therefore white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are all affected. There are many subtypes of the disease which means that treatment will vary. Treatments can include: chemotherapy, other drug therapy, biological thereapy, radiati

What are the causes?

  • DNA (genetic code) mutations cause blood cell production and development problems. However, it is not clear why these mutations occur.

What are the riskfactors?

  • Increasing Age
  • Sex – males are more likely to get AML
  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Genetic Disorders (like Down syndrome)
  • Smoking
  • Chemical exposure
  • Other blood disorders Note: many children that develop ALL will not have any known risk factors


    What can I do?

    • Tell your child’s doctor about any changes in your child’s behavior and/or symptoms
    • Follow treatment instructions carefully
    • Find out if your child is a candidate for a clinical trial, which may offer new drug treatments

    Find more information about our pediatric hematology/oncology experts or to make an appointment, call the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at Miller Children's at (562) 728-5000.


    It is important to remember the health information found on this Web site is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


    • Fever
    • Bone pain
    • Unusual bleeding - Frequent or severe nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums
    • Shortness of breath
    • Pale skin
    • Weight loss
    • Fatigue and lethargy
    • Bruising easily
    • Frequent infections

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