Classification and prognosis for AML
Working out the specific type of AML is called classification. It helps doctors work out the prognosis and the most suitable treatment. AML has more than 20 different subtypes according to the type of myeloid cell that has become abnormal and whether:
- there are particular gene changes in the leukaemia cells
- the leukaemia started from a blood disorder called myelodysplasia
- more than one type of blood cell has abnormal changes.
Prognosis means the expected outcome of a disease. You may wish to discuss your prognosis with your doctor. It is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of the disease, but your doctor can give you an idea about the likely outcomes for people with your type of AML.
To work out your prognosis, your doctor will consider test results, how fast the leukaemia cells are growing or spreading, the subtype, how well the leukaemia responds to treatment, and other factors such as your age, fitness and medical history.
For many people, treatment can reduce the signs and symptoms of acute leukaemia for years. This is known as remission. Acute leukaemia sometimes becomes active again (relapses) after a period of remission because a small number of leukaemia cells have remained in the body. Those remaining cells are known as minimal residual disease (MRD). Doctors may measure a person’s MRD to work out the risk of relapse and if there is a need for more treatment. Immunophenotyping and PCR tests are used to measure MRD.
For an overview of what to expect during all stages of your cancer care, visit cancerpathways. This is a short guide to what is recommended, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
Podcast: Tests and Cancer
Dr Jonathan Sillar, Haematologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; Dr Scott Dunkley, Haematologist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse; Sharon Frazer, Consumer; Dr Robin Gasiorowski, Staff Specialist, Haematology, Concord Hospital; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Heather Mackay, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Haematology, Westmead Hospital; Katelin Mayer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Outreach Team, Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
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