Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute Myleoid Leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the body’s blood and bone marrow. This cancer progresses quickly and affects the immature blood cells causing the bone marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal white blood cells multiply quickly and begin to invade the space needed by healthy blood cells. In addition, these abnormal cells are unable to perform their normal functions, leaving the body susceptible to infection and uncontrollable bleeding. Because it’s “acute,” this type of leukemia can spread quickly to the blood and to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, brain and spinal cord. Without treatment, AML can quickly become fatal.
Many people with AML have no known risk factors, and many people who have risk factors never develop the cancer. However, the risk factors for AML include the following:
Smoking-AML is sometimes linked to cigarette smoke, which contains benzene and other known cancer-causing chemicals
Chemical Exposure – Long term exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene, a solvent used in oil refineries and other industries, as well as some detergents, cleaning products, and paint strippers has been linked to the development of AML.
Radiation – Exposure to high doses of radiation has been known to cause AML
Previous Cancer Treatment – Treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs, such as mechlorethamine, procarbazine, and chlorambucil used to treat other cancers, especially when combined with radiation therapy, puts patients at a high risk of AML.
Blood Disorders – Certain blood disorders, such as myeloproliferative disorders cause patients to be at a greater risk of AML.
Genetic Disorders – Certain congenital syndromes, such as Down syndrome, are associated with an increased risk of AML.
Being Male – Men are more likely to develop AML than are women.
Age – The risk of AML increases with age, and is most common in adults age 65 and older.
For most people, the cause of AML is unknown. This does not mean there is “no cause”, rather that no research is being done into the vast majority of AML patients to determine their risk factors.
The initial signs and symptoms of the early stages of AML resemble those of the flu or the common cold. This is due to a compromised immune system brought on by AML. General symptoms of AML include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite or weight, night sweats, shortness of breath, pale skin, and frequent infections.
Many symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia are the result of a shortage of normal blood cells, caused by leukemia cells crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow. Signs and symptoms may vary based on the type of blood cell affected. For example, a shortage of red blood cells may cause symptoms of anemia including: fatigue or weakness, dizziness/light-headedness, feeling cold, headaches, and shortness of breath. Moreover, a shortage of normal white blood cells may result in fevers or recurring infections. Lastly, a shortage of blood platelets may cause symptoms such as frequent bruising for no clear reason, repeated or severe nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or other unusual bleeding, such as from minor cuts.
Depending upon where leukemia cells are present, other symptoms may include bone or joint pain, headaches, vomiting, seizures, blurred vision, problems with balance, skin rashes, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, groin or under arms.
There is no effective cure for AML and treatments are geared towards getting the condition to go into remission. Treatment for AML contains two parts: induction therapy and consolidation therapy, both of which are done in the hospital. The objective of induction therapy is to attain remission by killing as many leukemia cells as possible, gradually returning blood counts to normal, and clearing the body of signs of the disease for an extended period of time. Consolidation therapy attacks leukemia cells that normal blood or bone marrow tests are unable to locate. This type of therapy may include chemotherapy, which kills many healthy cells along with the cancerous cells, or possibly a bone marrow transplant, which involves use of high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation, followed by a transplant of bone-forming stem cells, usually from a donor.
Although there are many types of leukemia, Acute Myeloid Leukemia is the leukemia most strongly associated with benzene exposure. While some experts disagree that benzene causes certain types of leukemia, all medical and scientific experts agree that benzene causes AML. If you or a loved one have been exposed to benzene and developed a form of leukemia, such as AML, or other blood related disease, you should contact Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC immediately. You may be entitled to compensation and they can help.