Relapsed Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Relapsed Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer in which the cancer cells return after a period of remission or response to the initial treatment. The relapse indicates that the cancer cells have developed some type of resistance to the chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments used for the initial course of therapy, which must be addressed in a different way.

AML is a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow and is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. It is caused by an abnormal proliferation of immature white blood cells. The disease occurs when the bone marrow produces too many abnormal myeloid cells, resulting in a decrease in the production of red cells, white cells, and platelets.

When AML relapses, it is usually a more aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of the disease than the initial diagnosis. The treatment of relapsed AML typically requires more intensive chemotherapy regimens and may involve other targeted therapies, stem cell transplant, or clinical trials using novel agents.

Causes of Relapsed AML

The exact cause of relapsed AML is not completely understood. Possible causes include:

  • The initial treatment may not have completely eliminated the cancer cells.
  • The cancer cells may have become resistant to the chemotherapy drugs.
  • The cancer cells may have developed gene mutations that make them resistant to treatment.
  • The cancer cells may have spread to other areas of the body not accessible to the initial treatment.

Treatments for Relapsed AML

The treatment for relapsed AML depends on the individual patient and the stage of the disease. Treatments for relapsed AML may include:

  • Intensive chemotherapy and/or targeted therapies to destroy the remaining cancer cells.
  • Stem cell transplant to replace the damaged bone marrow.
  • Clinical trials using new, novel drugs and treatments.
  • Supportive care to manage pain and other symptoms of the disease.

Patients with relapsed AML should discuss their treatment options with their healthcare team. Treatment decisions should be made together based on the patient’s individual needs and prognosis.