Acute Myeloid Leukemia Prognosis and Survival Rate

What do the final stages of acute myeloid leukemia feel like?

The final stage of acute myeloid leukemia is the one that precedes death by a few days to a few weeks. At this stage, the body is frail, and patients are often unable to help themselves eat or take care of their hygiene. Patients have also been regularly receiving blood transfusions to compensate for their extremely deranged bone marrow and severe cellular deficiencies. They are mostly in a hospital setting because of a complication that occurred.

In most cases, the complication that caused their admission is a severe infection or hemorrhage. Severe infections cause an overall sense of weakness, and high fever. Fever can cause delirium and loss of consciousness. The commonest infection in such patients is pneumonia. In such case, patients will spend their final days on a ventilator to support their failing lungs. Hemorrhage, on the other hand, can be sudden and severe that the patient might die before reaching the hospital. If they reach the hospital in time, they are mostly saved unless a severe organ damage occurred from the blood loss. If the brain is that organ, then they may enter a coma, and doctors may consult the family on whether they should disconnect the life support machines.

What is better in leukemia is that there is usually no severe pain as in other cancers that erode nerves and muscles and patients are spared narcotics which come with dose limitations and their own set of side effects. However, in some cases, patients may receive analgesia if they suffered a bone fracture. In elderly patients, doctors will present the option of not going through aggressive chemotherapy and instead depending on palliative care to spare the patient the complications of chemotherapy that are unlikely to result in a satisfactory response. The decision remains in the patient’s hands after all. Patients will be informed of the possibility of an effective palliative care which is designed to decrease their psychological and physical suffering.