Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) treatment
Planning your treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
The treatment you have for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) will depend on your age, medical fitness and the specific type of AML you have.
Throughout your treatment, your medical team will always discuss your treatment options with you. You’ll be able to give your opinions and preferences and ask questions at any point.
Treatment planning looks at whether a certain treatment would cause you more harm than good. The most important factors in treatment planning are:
- whether you’re fit and well enough to receive intensive chemotherapy and whether you’d benefit from this
- whether doctors think there’s a high risk that the AML will return (a relapse) following standard treatment
- whether there is a targeted therapy available for your specific type of AML
- your opinion on which treatments you want to receive.
Everyone is different, so your doctor will consider these factors – factors which determine your ‘fitness for treatment’ – on an individual basis.
Age and fitness
The biggest factor in determining your fitness for treatment is your age. If you’re over 60, some extra factors might affect how the AML is treated.
Doctors are more cautious about giving more intensive treatment to people over 60 because your age can affect how well your body responds to treatment or deals with toxic drugs. As each person is different, doctors can’t always say how age will affect your fitness for treatment.
For example, a younger person with other medical problems might be less suitable for intensive treatment than a very fit but much older patient. Your healthcare team will bear all of this in mind when discussing your treatment options with you.
Risk of relapse
Your healthcare team will monitor your risk of relapse carefully throughout your treatment. The likelihood of you relapsing might change depending on which treatments you have.
A relapse is when the leukaemia comes back. This happens when the amount of leukaemia is reduced through treatment but not completely removed. Patients with a higher chance of relapse at diagnosis are more likely to have a stem cell transplant earlier in their treatment.
Many factors determine the risk of relapse. This will be assessed by your healthcare team initially when you’re diagnosed, and it’s often reassessed after each course of treatment.
Reviewing treatment planning
Throughout your treatment, decisions will be continuously reviewed with you. Your healthcare team will make sure they give you as much information as you want and need about the advantages and disadvantages of all available treatments and how long-term side effects can be treated.
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