Acute Myeloid Leukemia Prognosis and Survival Rate

How can acute myeloid leukemia kill me?

Acute leukemia mainly affects the bone marrow, causing a severe decrease in the number of its cells. This results in anemia, decreased white blood cell and platelet count. Anemia is usually not severe enough to cause death -although it can occur-, but the main causes of death in AML are:

  1. Severe overwhelming infections: Decreased white blood cell count leaves the body defenseless against even minor infections. Infection becomes severe enough that bacteria spread freely by the blood and produce their toxins, a condition termed septicemia. Septicemia is evidenced by high sustained fever and an overall deterioration of the general condition. Such toxins affect the heart, kidneys, brain, and gastrointestinal tract. They also produce a severe drop of blood pressure called a septic shock which causes brain death and kidney failure.
  2. Hemorrhage: The fall of platelet counts impairs our coagulation and causes spontaneous bleeding from all surfaces. When platelet count falls below 20,000 per microliter, spontaneous bleeding can occur into the brain which results in increased intracranial pressure with brain herniation and death. Severe bleeding can also occur from the nose, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract.