The signs and symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia can vary according to the stage of the condition and which types of cells the condition primarily affects. Acute myelogenous leukemia is a very aggressive form of leukemia and generally affects the blood and bone marrow of the individuals that develop the condition. In later stages of the condition, acute myelogenous leukemia can spread from the blood cells to other systems of the body, affecting them as well. Acute myelogenous leukemia corrupts the DNA of immature blood cells before they develop into mature red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, causing the blood cells to grow abnormally and reducing the blood’s ability to function properly. The condition progresses quickly and the abnormal cells are produced rapidly, leaving less room for the normal blood cells in the body.
The initial symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia resemble those associated with the flu or the common cold. Individuals experiencing the initial symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia often delay treatment because they believe that the symptoms that they are experiencing are not severe enough to require medical treatment. The initial symptoms of the condition include fever, fatigue, lethargy, bone pain, and unexplained weight loss. As the condition progresses, a new range of symptoms will appear. These symptoms can vary depending on the type of blood cells being affected in the body and can cause a wide range of complications.
If the abnormal cells being produced begin to crowd out the red blood cells, specific issues will follow. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all of the different systems of the body and if the red blood cells cannot perform their function properly, these systems will become damaged from lack of oxygen. Anemia develops when there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen in the body properly. Individuals may also experience a shortness of breath, abnormally pale skin, and excessive fatigue. These are all signs that the level of red blood cells performing properly in the blood has decreased significantly.
If the level of white blood cells is reduced, a host of other symptoms will occur. White blood cells are responsible for defending the body from infection and, if there are not enough white blood cells in the blood stream to perform this function, then the body is left vulnerable to a host of illnesses. Improperly functioning white blood cells are unable to fight off attacks on the body by bacteria, viruses, or foreign bodies, causing the individual to get sick with greater frequency and for longer periods of time. These infections may also prove to be more serious for individuals with a low white blood cell count as the individual could die from common diseases that their body would normally be able to fight off.
When the abnormal cells produced by acute myelogenous leukemia begin to crowd out the platelets in the blood, some serious side effects may occur. The platelets in the blood control bleeding and clotting, which helps small wounds heal quickly and completely. When the level of platelets in the blood drops, uncontrollable bleeding may occur and wounds will not heal because the blood will not clot. The reduced levels of platelets in the blood will also cause the individual to bruise more frequently with less force, can cause excessive nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums, and cause tiny red spots to appear beneath the surface of the skin, which are actually small collections of blood within the skin. All of these side effects and complications are considered serious and medical treatment should be obtained as soon as the symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia appear.
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