5 Facts You Should Know About Leukemia

(BPT) - Heather, of Yorba Linda, California, was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), in late 2017. One morning, when she woke up extremely pale and covered with bruises, she sought medical help to see what was wrong. After contacting her doctor, who ran her bloodwork and found her levels were significantly lower than average, she was rushed to the ER.

“I was pretty near death at that time,” Heather said. It was after her ER visit that she found out she had AML. Heather went through many rounds of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant in the summer of 2018.

Throughout the entire process, Heather’s husband, three children, and her family stayed by her side. She is also thankful for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for providing her with the information she needed as a newly diagnosed patient and for its large community of other AML patients and survivors.

Unfortunately, Heather’s story is one of many. Approximately every 3 minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. When it comes to leukemia, the five-year survival rate has quadrupled since the 1960s because of a longstanding investment in scientific research. However, when it comes to the most common form of leukemia in adults, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), only one in four people survive five years after diagnosis.

1) What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and marrow, the spongy center inside the bones where blood cells are made. The four major types of leukemia are:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Acute leukemias are rapidly progressing diseases, and chronic leukemias usually progress more slowly.

2) What is acute myeloid leukemia (AML)?

AML is one of the deadliest blood cancers, taking the lives of more than 11,000 Americans each year. AML starts in the bone marrow and often quickly moves into the blood. And while AML can impact people of all age groups, those 60 years and older are more likely to develop the disease.

3) What are some of the signs and symptoms of AML?

Unlike some cancers, AML does not have any recommended screening tests. Acute leukemias, such as AML, usually develop quickly and are found because of signs or symptoms that are reported to a healthcare provider. Many people start to notice signs and symptoms early on like:

  • Pale skin
  • Headaches
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising

4) What are some research efforts helping to bring new treatments to AML patients?

LLS is changing the future for AML patients by leveraging the promise of science through its:

  • Beat AML Master Clinical Trial, the first collaborative precision medicine clinical trial for blood cancer. The trial currently enrolls newly diagnosed patients aged 60 or older and uses advanced genomic technology to match patients to the most promising targeted treatment based on their unique genetic mutations.
  • Support of more than 70 AML research projects across its grants portfolio and Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP), totaling more than $56.9 million in multi-year funding.
  • LLS PedAL will be the first global precision medicine clinical trial for children with relapsed acute leukemia. LLS is currently laying the groundwork for this trial.

5) No one should have to go through an AML diagnosis alone. Contact LLS Information Specialists for free, one-on-one support at (800) 955-4572 or visit www.lls.org/patientsupport.

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