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Causes & symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of AML include shortness of breath, bruising, fever, weakness, and infection. Usually, AML develops quickly and worsens unless it is treated. The animation below provides a summary of the signs and symptoms of AML.

What are the causes of AML?

We do not fully understand why certain genetic abnormalities cause a blood cell to become abnormal and develop into a leukemia cell. However, certain risk factors may increase the chance of developing AML. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will develop AML, and someone without any of these risk factors can still develop AML. The possible risk factors for AML include the following:

  • Old age (AML is more common as people grow older, but AML can develop at any age)
  • Sex (AML is more common in men than women)
  • Being exposed to high-dose radiation or chemicals, such as benzene (an industrial solvent) and some detergents
  • Previously having chemotherapy or radiotherapy for other cancers
  • Smoking
  • Previously having a blood disease, such as a myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Being born with a genetic disorder

AML is not an inherited condition and cannot be transferred from one person to another.

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Hear from Valerie about her AML journey

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