What are the types of AML?

Female patient at a doctor's appointment

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World Health Organization (WHO) classification

The WHO classification system divides AML into several broad groups by the type of abnormal myeloid cell and if:

  • There are genetic changes in the cells.
  • The leukaemia developed from a blood disorder.
  • The leukaemia developed after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • More than one type of blood cell has abnormal changes.

AML risk groups 

  • Low risk: Your leukaemia is likely to be cured and there’s less chance of the cancer coming back (relapse). Low-risk patients won’t usually need a stem cell transplant, unless they relapse.
  • Intermediate risk: It is hard to predict how you will respond to treatment. You may or may not need a stem cell transplant. 
  • High risk: There’s a high risk of the leukaemia coming back (relapse) so you will have very intensive treatment. You are likely to have a stem cell transplant if you are suitable for one.

Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL)

Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) is a sub-type of AML. APL is treated differently to other forms of AML, as it responds well to certain non-chemotherapy drugs, for example, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA).

APL is usually treated with a combination of drugs, which may include chemotherapy drugs.

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