Monday, October 24, 2011

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

AML is a very serious cancer of the bone marrow and the blood.  The bone marrow is rapidly producing immature blast cells of the granular type of white cell.  The immature cells grow so rapidly that they push out other blood cells such as platelet, lymphocytes and red cells. The blast cell ,being very immature, cannot perform the function of the mature cell in immunity protection.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

 In the picture above you will notice how large the cells are and the nucleus( purple center) of the cell is light and not condensed.  This means that the cell  is immature .  Below is a chart to see how white cells mature.

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The two charts show the maturation of the different white cells. In the healthy blood specimen there should be no immature cells.  When the blood analyzer detects and immature cells , a smear of the abnormal blood must be prepared and stain stained to be viewed by a tech and ultimately a pathologist.

If the oncologist and pathologist detect an acute leukemia they will do a bone marrow aspirate to be stained and analyzed by the pathologist.  The other genetic testing and other diagnostic testing make take longer to receive than the bone marrow results.  Genzyme , Mayo and other lab testing facilities perform genetic testing to help greatly with diagnosing AML.  Acute myelogenous leukemia is also known as acute myeloid leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

In general, leukemia occurs when some blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA — the instructions inside each cell that guide its action. The mutations cause the cell to grow and divide more rapidly and to continue living when normal cells would die. Over time, these abnormal cells can crowd out healthy blood cells, causing the signs and symptoms of leukemia.
Symptoms of AML are the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Frequent infections
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Bone pain or tenderness
Please see a medical professional immediately if these symptoms occur.

Go To Mayo Clinic website for more information.

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