Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) consists of a group of malignant disorders characterized by the replacement of normal bone marrow with abnormal, immature blood-forming cells. AML is a relatively rare disease, as it accounts for about 1.2% of cancer deaths in the United States. However, as age is an adverse factor, it is expected that AML incidence increases as the population ages. Without treatment, most people with acute myeloblastic leukemia develop infection and bleeding and die within a few weeks to months after being diagnosed. AML is often mentioned under one of the following names:
• acute myelocytic leukemia
• acute myelogenous leukemia
• acute granulocytic leukemia
• non-lymphocytic leukemia
• acute myeloid cancer
5-year Survival Rate
The 5-year survival rate refers to the number of patients with acute myeloid cancer still alive after 5 years since treatment, compared to the general population. Myelo cancer therapy has as a result an average 5-year survival of 20% to 40% of the patients, without any relapse. Relapses occur in the majority of the cases within the first 5 years after initial treatment, and most people who stay leukemia-free after 5 years are considered cured.
Why Is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia a Deadly Disease?
AML often starts in the bone marrow, but in most cases it is transferred to the blood. Further spreading affects different parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the testicles (in men) and ovaries (in women). The presence of an overly high number of leukemic myeloblasts in the bone marrow, blood and the different organs undermines the ability of the body to protect itself against infection. Infection is the number one cause of death in myelo cancer. The number two cause is bleeding. Malfunction in blood clotting makes bleeding a life-threatening condition even in case of minor injuries.
Treatment Failure in AML
There are two factors that cause treatment failure in acute myeloid leukemia:
• Resistance to therapy: resistance is most often manifested as relapse after a brief period of remission. It is less often for resistance to manifest as failure to enter complete remission (CR).
• Early death: though any definition of early death can be considered arbitrary, usually patients dying within a period of seven weeks after chemotherapy starts, enter this category.
Risk factors for early death are age, performance status, and organ function, while the risk factors for chemotherapy resistance are cytogenetics and a history of abnormal blood counts for a period of at least one month prior to the AML diagnosis.
Clinical Trials as an Option
Despite the developments of medical science technology and even if the cure rate has improved, treatments are still associated with notable morbidity and mortality. For this reason, clinical trials that research potential new approaches to treatment are often the only option for patients for whom standard therapy does not work or exist. Call us today and learn about your sign-up options for our Phase 2 TPA study!