Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Groundbreaking initiative to beat aggressive form of leukemia
Only 27 percent of patients with acute myeloid leukemia live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. UT Southwestern Medical Center is working to change that, as one of only 11 sites in the U.S. selected for Beat AML, with a master clinical trial using a precision medicine approach to destroy the disease.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the bone marrow and the blood. It’s a fast-growing type of leukemia and is the most common type of acute leukemia affecting adults.

In AML, abnormal white blood cells build up in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.

Without treatment, AML progresses rapidly. However, for some patients AML can be curable. 

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center offers treatments to AML patients they can’t get anywhere else in the region. Our physicians have the highest levels of expertise in diagnosing the disease and in identifying the most advantageous and promising treatment plan.

We perform intense laboratory studies to help us better understand leukemia and to develop therapeutic clinical trials that target molecular weaknesses and harness the immune system. One current trial is the Beat AML initiative.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of AML include fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding, shortness of breath, and weight loss. Sometimes, no symptoms are present.

If AML is suspected based on a physical exam and symptoms, we’ll order additional tests. These tests include:

  • Blood and molecular analysis, which assesses the numbers, types, and shapes of blood cells, as well as other characteristics that could indicate leukemia.
  • Bone marrow biopsy to detect leukemia cells in the bone marrow.

An accurate diagnosis is critical to developing an effective treatment plan. At UT Southwestern, we work with specialized pathologists called hematopathologists who are uniquely trained to identify and classify blood cancers.

Risk factors for developing AML include having another type of blood disorder, exposure to chemicals or ionizing radiation, and genetics.

Treatment

Treatment for AML often includes a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and sometimes transplantation. We offer particular expertise in:

  • Chemotherapy, which delivers drugs through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body.
  • Adoptive immunotherapy, which involves manipulating a patient’s immune system so it attacks cancer cells.
  • Bone marrow transplantation, which destroys harmful cells and then returns cells to the body that are specifically engineered to attack cancer cells.
  • Molecular targeted therapies, including therapies that both identify the cell mutations causing the disease and administer drugs to attack those particular cells and pathways.

Our team of AML experts works with each individual patient to come up with a personalized treatment plan.

Support During and After Treatment

Our care teams offer nutritional, spiritual, and transitional guidance from the start of a patient’s journey, through treatment and beyond. The overall physical and emotional well-being of our patients is critical in helping to achieve a positive outcome.

Request an Appointment

To schedule a visit with an acute myeloid leukemia specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.