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Childhood acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

Childhood acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a rare type of childhood leukaemia. Each year around 100 children and young adults under 19 years old are diagnosed with AML in the UK.

A man with his child by Kelly Sikkema

Childhood acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) at a glance

AML is a type of cancer that affects blood-producing myeloid cells in the bone marrow. ‘Acute’ means it develops quickly.

AML usually affects older adults but children and young adults can also get it. In the UK, about 100 children a year are diagnosed with AML.

Read more about childhood AML

We don’t know exactly what causes childhood AML, but some factors make it more likely to develop the condition, including:

  • age
  • previous treatment for cancer
  • Down's syndrome

Find more about childhood AML causes

Children with AML may experience tiredness and breathlessness, bruise or bleed easily and get more infections.

Find more about symptoms of AML

Your child will have tests to confirm whether they have AML. Some tests will be repeated on a regular basis to help doctors monitor the disease, the effect of treatment and your child’s general health.

More about tests for childhood AML

AML is treated with anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy). Treatment begins very soon after diagnosis and takes around five to six months. Many children are treated as part of a clinical trial.

More information on childhood AML treatment and side effects.

Find out more about clinical trials for childhood AML

The change of long-term survival for children and young adults with AML has improved in recent years and most respond well to treatment.

Read more about the prognosis for childhood AML.

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