Don’t ignore these 9 early warning signs of AML

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that affects the blood-forming cells in an individual’s bone marrow. It may adversely affect the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The actual cause of the disease is unknown, but genetic or blood disorders, previous cancer treatments, or prolonged radiation exposure are considered to be some of the risk factors. Recognizing these early warning signs of AML is crucial for timely intervention and treatment.

Warning signs of AML
Like many cancers, AML often starts with subtle symptoms that may be mistaken for other, less severe conditions. Here are some of these warning signs that should prompt one to seek medical help.

Bone and joint pain
Some individuals with AML experience bone and joint pain, which may be mistaken for arthritis. This pain typically occurs in the long bones of the arms and legs.

Swelling of the abdomen
Enlargement of the spleen or liver, which can occur in AML, may cause abdominal discomfort or a feeling of fullness.

Fatigue and loss of appetite
Unexplained and persistent fatigue or weakness is a common early sign of AML. It occurs because the body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells, reducing oxygen supply to tissues and muscles. One may also feel like one’s appetite is lost.

Since the condition leads to less production of red blood cells, it may lead to anemia. One may experience the subsequent signs of anemia, including:

  • Pale skin
  • Feeling cold
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Breathing issues
  • Frequent infections

Since AML leads to reduced production of white blood cells, which are tasked with fighting off harmful pathogens, one may experience frequent infections that do not heal quickly.

Abdomen swelling
AML can cause enlargement of the spleen or liver and lead to abdominal discomfort or a feeling of fullness.

Bruises and bleeding
Blood platelets are responsible for clotting and wound healing. AML disrupts platelet production, leading to nosebleeds, slow-healing purplish or red bruises, or gum bleeding. Women may experience abnormal bleeding during menstruation.

Fever and night sweats
One may experience fever and unplanned night sweats.

Slurred speech, confusion, blood clotting
AML cancer cells, known as blasts, can cause blockages because they don’t easily pass through blood vessels. If left untreated, it can result in slurred speech, confusion, trouble balancing, excessive sleepiness, or even stroke.


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