Classification and prognosis for AML
Working out the specific type of AML is called classification. It helps doctors work out the prognosis and suggest the most suitable treatment.
AML consists of more than 20 different subtypes according to the type of myeloid cell that has become abnormal and whether:
- there are particular genetic 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 issues that affect people with your type of AML.
To work out your prognosis, your doctor will consider test results, the rate and extent of leukaemia cell growth, the subtype, how well you respond to treatment, and other factors such as 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.
Leukaemia sometimes becomes active again (recurs) after a period of remission because a small number of cancer cells were left behind. This is known as minimal residual disease (MRD). Doctors may measure a person’s MRD to work out the risk of recurrence and the need for more treatment. Techniques used to find MRD include:
- immunophenotyping – tests for markers or signals on the surface of leukaemia cells
- PCR test – looks for genetic changes in cells.
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.
A/Prof John Moore (Conjoint UNSW), Senior Staff Specialist Haematology, Department of Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital; Glynda Blomson, Consumer; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital; Sharon Frazer, Consumer; 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; Karen Maddock, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Haematology, Westmead Hospital.
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