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Understanding AML


Updated April 17, 2024

The following information was prepared in collaboration with the MDS Foundation.

Recommendations for patients with acute myeloid leukemia

As a patient with acute myeloid leukemia, you may be particularly susceptible to the effects of COVID-19; therefore, measures have been put in place to minimize the risk of you contracting the virus. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia who are not showing symptoms and not receiving treatment should discuss alternatives to clinic visits with their healthcare provider. Many questions can be answered by phone or via a telemedicine visit.

Patients who are on active treatments or receiving transfusions should continue to attend any scheduled appointments unless they are contacted by a member of their healthcare team and advised otherwise. It is a good idea for patients to contact their leukemia specialist prior to each scheduled appointment to see if the appointment is essential, and to possibly conduct the visit by phone or telemedicine. Sometimes it may also be possible to have routine lab tests drawn locally or at home to avoid travel.

It is essential that patients with ANY symptoms of cough, fever, diarrhea, loss of taste/smell, or chills, contact their healthcare provider (most cancer centers have hotlines, the numbers can be found on their websites) for instructions on how to proceed BEFORE coming into the hematology clinics. This ensures that you do not potentially expose other immunocompromised patients to the virus. If possible, wear a mask that covers both your nose and mouth when attending hospitals or clinics.

General recommendations

The following general recommendations were prepared by the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation.

  1. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, discarding the tissue and cleaning your hands afterwards; if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (i.e., doorknobs, light switches, handles, toilets, faucets, laptops, keyboards, cell phones, tables/counters).
  5. Avoid shaking hands with others.
  6. Avoid close contact with people who are unwell and discourage people from visiting your home if they have any symptoms of illness.
  7. Avoid travel as much as possible.
  8. Avoid crowds and large gatherings.
  9. Avoid contact with high-touch surfaces in public places (i.e., elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, touchscreens). Flat surfaces are more likely to have viruses or bacteria.

Contact your leukemia specialist with any questions or specific concerns.

COVID-19 resource

General information

The coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, which originated the current pandemic. Other coronaviruses are those causing the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Symptoms of COVID-19 may resemble flu as both can cause fever and cough, body aches, and fatigue. The symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear between two and 14 days after being exposed to the virus and vary between mild to severe. Some people can develop breathing difficulties caused by the virus.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which is why it is important to maintain social distancing and to wash your hands often and thoroughly.

It is important that you stay up to date with the latest information and guidelines from your country’s health authorities and other trusted sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

Additional information

The PACE study

Blood Cancer UK (guidance for patients with blood cancer – United Kingdom)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Health Service (United Kingdom)

Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (guidance for patients with bone marrow failure)

University of Miami Health System

After reading this information, do you feel better informed about the recommendations regarding COVID-19 for patients with acute myeloid leukemia?

In this section

What is acute myeloid leukemia?Causes & symptomsDiagnosisTypesTreatmentPrognosisRemissionRelapseCOVID-19Caregivers

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Hear from Dorcas about her experience of caring for someone with acute myeloid leukemia.

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