What to Know about Secondary AML

A diagnosis of secondary acute myeloid leukemia (sAML) can be overwhelming. Here are the basics about sAML that are important to understand.

sAML is a subtype of AML

AML is a blood cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many abnormal white blood cells called myeloblasts, red blood cells or platelets.1 There are different types of AML, based on how mature the myeloblasts are at the time of diagnosis and how different they are from normal cells.1

It can be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of AML in each individual.2 A diagnosis of sAML constitutes approximately 30% of AML cases.3,4 sAML may be linked to specific preexisting conditions, like myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), or to prior treatment for a malignant or non-malignant disease.5

There are Different Types of sAML
  • Therapy-related AML (t-AML): t-AML makes up approximately 4 to 10% of all AML cases, occurring as a result of prior treatment with chemotherapy or radiation for an unrelated cancer.3-5 Cases of t-AML can develop two to ten years after completion of treatment for a previous cancer.6-10
  • AML with myelodysplasia-related changes (AML-MRC): AML-MRC accounts for approximately 25% of AML cases, and it occurs when a person has abnormal bone marrow cells as a result of prior blood disorders.3,5 In these cases, the bone marrow not only has an unusually high number of myeloblasts, but also possesses many other abnormal cells caused by a prior condition such as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) or myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), where the bone marrow makes too many blood cells.5,11
Your Subtype Matters

The type of sAML you have will inform your treatment plan, so it’s important to discuss subtype testing with your doctor.

Types of AML
The World Health Organization divides AML into several groups:12
  • AML with certain genetic abnormalities
  • AML with myelodysplasia-related changes (considered sAML)
  • AML related to previous chemotherapy or radiation (considered sAML)
  • AML not otherwise specified (including cases that don’t fall into one of the above groups)
Symptoms of sAML may include:1
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or bruising easily