Thomas Jefferson University

Acute Myeloid (AML)

Quick Facts

Possible risk factors for AML include being male, smoking (especially after age 60, having had treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy in the past, having had treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in the past, being exposed to atomic bomb radiation or chemical benzene, and/or having a history of a blood disorder such as myelodysplastic syndrome.


Adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. It is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. AML is also called acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. There is no standard staging system for adult AML. The disease is described as untreated, in remission, or recurrent.

Specialized Physicians:
Atrayee Basu Mallick, MD
Avnish Bhatia, MD
Christina Brus, MD
Andrew E. Chapman, DO, FACP
Joanne E. Filicko-O'Hara, MD *
Neal Flomenberg, MD *
Margaret T. Kasner, MD *
Michael J. Ramirez
Lewis J. Rose, MD, FACP
John Wagner, MD *
Allison Zibelli, MD, FACP

*Practice Focus: Hematologic Malignancies

For further information contact:
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Untreated: In untreated adult AML, the disease is newly diagnosed. It has not been treated except to relieve symptoms such as fever, bleeding, or pain, and the following are true: 1) The complete blood count is abnormal; 2) At least 20% of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts (leukemia cells); 3)There are signs or symptoms of leukemia.

Adult AML in remission:  In adult AML in remission, the disease has been treated and the following are true:

  1. The complete blood count is normal;
  2. Less than 5% of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts (leukemia cells);
  3. There are no signs or symptoms of leukemia in the brain and spinal cord or elsewhere in the body.

Recurrent Adult AML: Recurrent AML is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The AML may come back in the blood or bone marrow.


The treatment of adult AML usually has 2 phases: 1) Remission induction therapy: This is the first phase of treatment. Its purpose is to kill the leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow. This puts the leukemia into remission; 2) Post-remission therapy: This is the second phase of treatment. It begins after the leukemia is in remission. The purpose of post-remission therapy is to kill any remaining leukemia cells that may not be active but could begin to regrow and cause a relapse. This phase is also called remission continuation therapy. Patients may receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, other drug therapy and/or targeted therapy.

Reference: National Cancer Institute.