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Research into AML has advanced in recent years, making it clear that AML is not a single disease, but rather a disease that can take one of many forms. The type of AML a patient has can depend on:
The type of AML a patient has can impact how well certain treatments work; knowing your AML type can guide personalized treatment decisions.
Changes to specific genes, known as mutations, are identified in many cases of AML and can result in specific types of AML. These mutations can help abnormal cells grow in an out-of-control manner. Some mutations are associated with better outcomes, while others are thought to contribute to more aggressive forms of AML and poorer outcomes.
Changes in the following genes are most commonly observed in patients with AML: FLT3, IDH1, IDH2, NPM1, DNMT3A, CEBPA, TET2, and KIT. It is important to know whether one or more of these genes are abnormal in your AML cells, as this can identify the type of AML you have and help to tailor a unique treatment for you.
Ask your doctor about your specific type of AML.
There are several categories of chromosomal changes that can cause specific types of AML. These can affect your outlook and how you respond to treatment. They include
Knowing the chromosomal changes that are present in your AML can help leukemia specialists decide the best treatment option for you.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a unique type of AML, which is most common in adults between 20 and 50 years of age.2 APL is characterized by a very specific chromosomal change, whereby sections of chromosomes 15 and 17 switch, forming an abnormal fusion gene called PML/RARα. This abnormal gene can lead to the overproduction of immature, non-functional white blood cells called promyelocytes. These promyelocytes build up in the bone marrow and reduce the number of mature healthy blood cells.
1. Cancer.Net. Leukemia - Acute Myeloid - AML: Subtypes. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/leukemia-acute-myeloid-aml/subtypes. Accessed Feb 24, 2021.
2. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Facts. https://www.lls.org/sites/default/files/National/USA/Pdf/Publications/APL_FactSheet_10_15FINAL.pdf. Accessed Feb 24, 2021.