Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia
Alternate Names : Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, AML
Acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) is a kind of cancer that occurs in a specialized white blood cell called a myelocyte. The cancerous change usually occurs in the bone marrow, where blood cells are made. The cancer cells grow and often take over the bone marrow. They can also travel throughout the body, a process known as metastasis. The cancerous cells can then interfere with the normal function of many parts of the body.
What is going on in the body?
When the cancerous cells grow in the bone marrow, normal bloods cells are often destroyed or crowded out. A reduction in normal white cells can cause the person to become infected easily. The infections may be serious and life threatening. Fewer platelets means that the person may bruise or bleed easily. Anemia, or low numbers of red blood cells, can make the person weak and easily tired.
The cancerous white cells can multiply quickly. Then, some of them can leave the bone marrow and travel throughout the body in the bloodstream. This often leads to problems in other parts of the body.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
ANLL is thought to have many causes, including:
certain chemicals, such as benzene and toluene
certain genetic defects, such as Down syndrome
exposure to large doses of radiation
some unusual viruses
Very rarely, people who have been given certain types of chemotherapy later develop ANLL.