21 Apr 2023
Seven things you might not know about AML
Every year over 3,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, or AML, but how much do you know about the disease? And what is Leukaemia UK doing about it? 21st April is AML World Awareness Day and we’re joining the global blood cancer community to raise awareness of AML and shine a light on some of the research we’re funding. Research that we hope will accelerate progress in leukaemia treatment and diagnosis and improve the lives of those affected by the disease today and in the future.
1. AML is a cancer of the white blood cells
AML is an type of leukaemia that progresses rapidly, which is why it is called ‘acute’. This also means it usually requires immediate treatment. The word ‘myeloid’ refers to the type of white blood cells affected – the myeloid cells.
AML develops when the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells multiply uncontrollably, preventing the body from producing enough of the healthy blood cells it needs.
2. The signs and symptoms can be ambiguous
Like leukaemia more generally, the signs and symptoms of AML can be similar to those of common conditions, so it can be hard to spot. The common symptoms to look out for can include:
- Bruising or bleeding
- Repeated infections
- Feeling weak or breathless
- Fever or night sweats
- Bone or joint pain
It’s important to know what’s normal for you. If you or a loved one experience one or a combination of these symptoms, it’s always best to ask your GP for a blood test.
3. Survival rates from AML are one of the lowest of any cancer type
Whilst improvements have been made, only 15% of people diagnosed with AML in the UK survive beyond five years. But research brings hope of a future where revolutionary new treatments could help stop AML devastating lives.
Every day, Leukaemia UK is accelerating progress through life-changing research that could hold to key to kinder, more effective treatments for people diagnosed with AML and other types of blood cancer.
4. AML is most common in the over 60s
AML doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of all ages – from babies to grandparents – but it is most common in the over 60s.
5. AML is more common in men
Around 1,300 females are diagnosed with AML each year in the UK, compared with around 1,700 males.
6. AML is the second most common type of leukaemia to affect children
Although children can be diagnosed with AML, treatment often works well – 5 year survival for children with the disease is now around 70%. Whilst it’s unacceptable that any child develops AML, the numbers are low in comparison to adults – with 77 under 14s diagnosed in the UK versus over 2,300 adults over 60.
7. We’re funding research to help stop AML devastating lives
Important discoveries are happening all the time within leukaemia research and we believe research has the power to stop AML devastating lives.
Leukaemia UK John Goldman Fellow, Dr Konstantinos Tzelepis discovered that a protein we all have in our bodies plays a vital role in AML. In 2021, alongside his research colleagues and collaborators, Dr Tzelepis identified a compound able to block the action of this protein. And in 2022, STORM therapeutics announced that a version of this drug entered clinical trials. It’s hoped the trial will extend to AML patients and if successful, could go on to provide a vital new treatment option for patients.
Leukaemia UK is determined to create change and help more people survive AML through our research. This April, you can support vital research into AML and other blood cancers. Thank you.
24 September 2021
Leading leukaemia charities call on Rishi Sunak not to cut financial lifeline for blood cancer patients
Leukaemia Care, Leukaemia UK and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland, have written to the Chancellor urging him to realise the devastating impact the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will have on the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).
12 October 2022
“Who’s Cooking Dinner?” makes a spectacular return to The Dorchester
On 10th October 2022, Leukaemia UK’s flagship fundraising event, “Who’s Cooking Dinner?”, returned to The Dorchester Hotel. Above: Fiona Hazell, Leukaemia UK Chief Executive, Iona Beastall and Dr Kostas Tzelepis….
11 February 2022
International Childhood Cancer Day: Dr Samanta Mariani reflects on her research into infant leukaemia
On International Childhood Cancer Day, Dr Samanta Mariani reflects on her research into infant leukaemia, what drives her in her work and her hopes for the future.
13 November 2023
This year’s Olive Boles Innovation Award winner announced
Dr Kevin Rattigan, University of Glasgow, has been selected as this year’s Olive Boles Innovation Award winner – an accolade given to one Leukaemia UK John Goldman Fellow each year….