It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with acute leukemia or has access to an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) specialist. This type of specialist is usually called a hematologist oncologist.
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
Most AML patients, particularly patients with high white cell counts, need treatment soon after diagnosis because of the disease's rapid progression. The initial goal of treatment usually is to get the patient into remission. The long-term goal is to cure the disease.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- your AML subtype
- your cytogenetic analysis results
- your overall health
- whether you've had cancer in the past and subsequent chemotherapy to treat it
- whether you've had a myelodysplastic syndrome or another blood cancer in the past
- whether the AML is in your central nervous system
- whether you have an infection in your bloodstream (systemic infection)
As you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to discuss:
- the results you can expect from treatment
- the possibility of participating in a clinical trial, where you'll have access to advanced medical treatment that may be more beneficial to you than standard treatment
- potential side effects, including late-term and long-term effects
Other Treatment Considerations
- If you're age 60 or older, your treatment may vary from standard approaches. For instance, your body may not be able to tolerate toxic chemotherapy drugs or you may have other ailments that are more common as we age. These factors, among others, may make deciding on a treatment more complicated.
- If your child is being treated for AML, therapy may differ slightly from that of the average adult's therapy. See Childhood AML.
- If your cancer has returned (relapsed) or it's still present after you finish standard therapy (refractory leukemia), you may have a different treatment approach than the first time around. See Refractory and Relapsed Leukemia.