Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL) is a rare form of leukemia. This disease is defined as any malignancy that affects the body’s bone marrow and production of infection-fighting white blood cells—the cancerous cells multiply rapidly and crowd out the healthy cells in the bone marrow, which lowers a patient’s resistance and ability to fight off infection. This disease mainly affects children, representing 1 percent of diagnosed leukemias in children. AMKL also has a high occurrence in children with Down’s syndrome.
Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia (AMKL) Signs & Symptoms
AMKL may begin to display a range of common symptoms associated with a number of less-serious illnesses, such as:
- Pallor/poor color
- Excessive unexplained bleeding
- Coagulation disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss
- Enlarged liver or spleen
Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia (AMKL) Diagnosis
Medical professionals may perform a number of procedures in order to make an accurate diagnosis of AMKL, including:
- CBC (complete blood count) or bone marrow sample: A sample of blood or bone marrow is drawn and examined under a microscope. This is one of the most accurate ways to diagnose AMKL.
- Cerebrospinal fluid sample (spinal tap): A sample of cerebrospinal fluid is collected and examined.
A patient is determined to have leukemia if their bone marrow contains 20 percent or more of immature cells called blasts—healthy bone marrow has less than 5 percent of blasts.
Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia (AMKL) Treatment
Treatment should begin as soon as a definitive diagnosis is made. Most doctors prescribe typical treatment methods, such as chemotherapy or radiation, to attack the malignant blood cells directly. Because of the rapid progression of AMKL, this is a particularly difficult disease to treat. In some patients, a bone marrow transplant has shown to be effective, but it is a highly aggressive form of leukemia and many patients, particularly adults, may have a poor prognosis.
Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia (AMKL) Outlook
Complete remission and long-term survival is more likely in children than adults diagnosed with AMKL. A patient’s prognosis depends on the cause of the illness. One third, or 33 percent, of children who are found to have a mutation of the T cells have a poor prognosis, One third of patients with Down’s syndrome have a better prognosis. The final third are patients may be heterogenous, with a poor prognosis.