Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Expert Care and Treatment for Leukemia and Related Disorders

Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center’s Adult Leukemia Program within the Hematologic Oncology Treatment Center includes hematologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and radiation therapists who specialize in treating patients with all types of leukemia and related blood and bone marrow disorders.

Your care team will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan that offers the most advanced therapies and an array of supportive resources.

Adult Leukemia Program

What Is Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a blood and bone marrow cancer in which the bone marrow makes immature white blood cells called myeloblasts or "blasts." This kind of cancer is called "acute" rather than "chronic" because it tends to be a fast-growing type of leukemia. 

Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare subtype of AML. Learn more about our specialized BPDCN Center


AML can be diagnosed at any age, but affects mostly older adults. The median age at diagnosis is 68 years. 

Risk Factors 

Some patients with AML have no known risk factors for developing the disease. Recognized risk factors for AML include: 

  • Being male 
  • Being older 
  • Having a history of smoking 
  • Having had treatment with certain types of chemotherapy or with radiation therapy in the past 
  • Having a history of a blood disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, myeloproliferative neoplasm, or aplastic anemia 
  • Having an inborn condition such as Down syndrome, Fanconi anemia, or dyskeratosis congenita (DKC) 
  • Heavy exposure to certain hazardous chemicals, such as benzene 
  • Genetic mutations that may be associated with inherited risk 

Signs and Symptoms 

  • Fever 
  • Unexplained weight or appetite loss 
  • Weakness or fatigue 
  • Pain or fullness below the ribs on the left side 
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty exercising 
  • Easy bruising or bleeding 
  • Night sweats 
  • Infections 

These symptoms can have many causes and may not be due to cancer. However, it is important that you discuss persistent symptoms with your primary care doctor. 

Growth and Spread 

AML is often a fast-growing disease, so timely and prompt diagnosis and initiation of treatment are important. Even though AML is usually a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, it can sometimes spread to other organs, such as the skin, brain, spinal cord, or spleen. 


As with any cancer, prognosis (chance of recovery) and long-term survival can vary greatly from patient to patient. The prognosis depends partly on: 

  • Certain molecular mutations or chromosomal changes in your bone marrow 
  • Whether you had chemotherapy in the past to treat a different cancer 
  • Whether you have a history of a blood disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome or myeloproliferative neoplasm 
  • Whether the cancer has spread outside the marrow (extramedullary involvement) 
  • Your age 
  • Other health conditions you may have

Why Choose Us


When looking for the right place to treat you for a diagnosis of leukemia, you want to know that you will be in highly skilled — and compassionate — hands. The team of specialists in the Adult Leukemia Program at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center has extensive experience caring for patients with AML and are world leaders in advancing the treatment of leukemia. 

Our Leukemia Program offers you access to an experienced team of cancer experts, many of them recognized as national leaders in their field, who concentrate exclusively on patients with leukemia and related blood disorders.  

We provide comprehensive services to patients with these cancers, including:  

  • Personalized treatment plans, ranging from standard supportive care to intensive chemotherapy for acute leukemia 
  • Access to new therapies through clinical trials, some of which may not be available elsewhere 
  • Close collaboration with the experts in our Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, one of the largest and most experienced programs in the world 
  • Access to the latest diagnostics, such as molecular and genomic profiling, including the Rapid Heme Panel
  • Multidisciplinary care delivered by specialists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital