Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), also called granulocytic, myelocytic, myeloblastic, or myeloid leukemia, is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow. In AML the bone marrow makes too many granulocytes, which normally fight infection. In addition to crowding out other important cells, these over-produced granulocytes  do not mature correctly. AML accounts for about three-quarters of all leukemias in adults.

Although AML typically occurs in adults, it can also occur in children. Information about childhood AML can be found at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital which has excellent programs and physicians.

Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a form of AML that is caused when part of chromosome 15 and chromosome 17 are swapped in an action called a translocation. APL accounts for about five to 10 percent of all cases of AML and is most likely to affect young adults.

Stanford Expertise

Patients with leukemia are evaluated and treated in Stanford's Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant clinics by a team of world-renowned faculty. We offer state-of-the-art chemotherapy protocols for leukemia and Stanford hematologists have helped develop the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for the management of hematologic malignancies. Our goal is to improve the survival and quality of life of patients.

Treatment With Chemotherapy & Radiation

AML treatment typically begins with chemotherapy that is broken into two phases: an induction phase that may require hospitalization, and a later consolidation phase that can be administed in our outpatient chemotherapy infusion center. When chemotherapy is successful, a patient is said to be in remission. This is because a small number of leukemia cells usually still remain in the blood even though they cannot be detected, so the cancer often comes back.

People who have AML sometimes also receive radiation therapy that is designed to relieve the bone pain that these tumors can cause.

Blood  and Bone Marrow Transplantation

Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) is a treatment option for a variety of malignant and non-malignant diseases. The Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Stanford is committed to outstanding clinical care and research.  This commitment, in conjunction with the numerous research resources and comprehensive support services offered at Stanford, assures the best possible outcome for our patients and their families. 

Clinical Trials

Cancer Center physicians are active in developing and testing new therapies for the treatment of AML. Through their laboratory investigation and clinical research, Stanford clinicians are identifying the biologic mechanisms responsible for the development of leukemia, and developing more effective therapies to address these diseases. For example, researchers recently identified a set of 133 genes that point to the most dangerous strains of  AML. In the not so distant future, their research may help doctors pick the best treatment for their AML patients.

When appropriate, patients are invited to participate in studies to investigate the newest treatments as well as large-scale clinical trials for more established treatments.

Stanford Medicine Resources:

Footer Links: