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Acute myeloid leukemia
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Acute myeloid leukemia

Contributors: Nina Haghi MD, Carla Casulo MD, Paritosh Prasad MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, is a clonal proliferation of malignant hematopoietic precursor cells. These immature myeloid cells (myeloblasts) accumulate in blood, bone marrow, or other tissue and cause decreased production of normal blood cells. It is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults. AML is generally rapidly fatal if not treated with intensive chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy.

AML has subtypes and several different gene mutations. Diagnosis usually requires the presence of more than 20% myeloblasts in the peripheral blood or bone marrow; however, several subtypes (with specific cytogenetic / molecular findings) may be diagnosed with less than 20% myeloblasts present. Rarely, AML patients may develop myeloid sarcoma tumors (single or multifocal), which can manifest without blood or bone marrow disease. Myeloid sarcoma can precede AML by months to years, occur concomitantly, or follow after AML diagnosis or remission.

Median age at diagnosis for AML is 65 years, with male predominance. It comprises approximately 1% of adult cancer deaths in the United States, with an incidence of up to 20 cases per 100 000 in adults older than 65 years.

Related topics: acute myelomonocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia


C95.00 – Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type not having achieved remission

91861009 – Acute myeloid leukemia, disease

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Myelodysplastic syndromes or myeloproliferative syndromes
  • Mixed phenotype leukemia
  • Viral illnesses (eg, Human immunodeficiency virus disease, Mononucleosis)
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Drug reaction

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed:06/06/2019
Last Updated:01/11/2022
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Acute myeloid leukemia
A medical illustration showing key findings of Acute myeloid leukemia : Fatigue, Bone pain, Easy bruising, Exertional dyspnea, Gingival hypertrophy, Pallor, Gingival bleeding, WBC elevated, PLT decreased, RBC decreased
Clinical image of Acute myeloid leukemia - imageId=7275584. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Gingival hypertrophy and dental plaque around tooth margins.'
Gingival hypertrophy and dental plaque around tooth margins.
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