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I've Just Been Told I Have Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the cells that make blood. It begins in your bone marrow, which is the spongy substance inside your bones that makes blood cells. The cancer spreads quickly to the blood and, over time, to other organs and parts of the body. Leukemia is not a simple cancer. It's complex, consisting of several types and subtypes, each with a different treatment plan and prognosis. You have acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which is also sometimes called acute myelogenous leukemia. It is a type that spreads quickly and affects white blood cells called myeloblasts.

Your doctor was able to tell that you have leukemia by taking samples of your bone marrow and/or blood. Other tests can show the type of leukemia and how well your disease may respond to various therapies. The good news is that more treatment options exist than ever before. That means there's more hope of effectively treating your leukemia.

AML is a complex disease and requires support by a health care team that specializes in managing leukemia. To decide the best course of treatment for you, your health care team needs to know as much as they can about your leukemia. This involves getting some tests and working with more than one doctor or other health care professional.

Your health care team will likely include an oncologist or hematologist and an oncology nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. They will answer any questions you may have and help you through each of the steps you'll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know what tests you need and the results of those tests. They'll guide you in making treatment decisions.

Usually treatment for AML begins within one to two days of diagnosis. Once your doctor suspects that you have AML, it is important that you start treatment as soon as possible. This is because the leukemia cells in AML can grow very quickly.


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