Leukemia (AML)

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)–An Overview of Initial Treatment

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Initial Treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

  • The initial treatment for people with AML, for those who can tolerate it, is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs in a process called “induction chemotherapy”
  • The chemo combination is given over a course of one week, but patients may have to stay in the hospital for a total of four-six weeks due to compromised immune systems
  • During the hospital stay, doctors will re-test the patient to make sure chemotherapy is working

When a person has acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is a younger adult (meaning under 60) in decent health otherwise, the normal course of treatment is what’s referred to as induction chemotherapy, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, the¬†Director of the Leukemia Program at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, tells SurvivorNet.

RELATED: What Are the Phases of AML Treatment?

The goal is to induce remission by drastically reducing the number of leukemia cells in the body. Two chemotherapy drugs — Daunorubicin or Idarubicin and Ara-C — are given during this phase of treatment. Ara-C is given for seven days straight in the first week of treatment, while the Daunorubicin or Idarubicin is given for three days as a 10-minute IV push.

“It’s a grand total of seven, plus three days that are overlapping,” Dr. Sekeres says. “Seven days total that a person receives chemotherapy. Now, this chemotherapy is not very elegant. The goal is to kill the leukemia cells, but it’s not that accurate, so it also kills the other bone marrow cells.”

Because the chemotherapy kills other healthy cells as well, people getting this induction chemotherapy will become extremely immuno-compromised — which leads to longer hospital stays.

“Because that person’s immune system is so compromised, and their requirement for [blood] transfusions is so huge, they remain in the hospital for four to six weeks total,” Dr. Sekeres says.

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Dr. Mikkael Sekeres is chief of the Division of Hematology at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Sekeres' focus is on myeloid cancers, and particularly myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in older adults. Read More

AML Treatment

Which treatment route a person with AML will take depends on their overall health and their specific disease. There have been some pretty incredible breakthroughs in treatment options in recent decades.

Treatment : Treatment Options

  • For people deemed healthy enough, induction therapy is the standard treatment for AML
  • The process involves a seven-day chemotherapy regiment, followed by several weeks of recovery
  • The goal with this high-dose of chemo is to induce remission

AML - Initial Treatment Overview

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres
University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Making Treatment Decisions

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres
University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Understanding the Phases of AML Treatment

Dr. Richard Stone
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Treatment : Targeted Therapies

  • There have been some incredible breakthroughs in AML treatment options in recent decades
  • A wave of new targeted therapies have been approved for the disease, and doctors hope these approvals will unlock new and improved treatment options for those living with AML

The Benefits of Combination Drug Therapy Using Ventecolax for AML

Dr. Raoul Tibes
NYU Langone Health

Advancements In FLT3 Inhibitors: New Drugs For Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Dr. Raoul Tibes
NYU Langone Health