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Acute myeloid leukemia: all about the disease that struck Siniša Mihajlović


Acute myeloid leukemia is a form of leukemia linked to the mutation of cells in the bone marrow: let's understand its causes and treatment.

Acute myeloid leukemia ( AML ) is a form of leukemia that develops in the bone marrow and progresses very rapidly, hence its name 'acute'. Immature cells, also called stem or blast cells, are found within the bone marrow , a spongy tissue from which the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets that make up the corpuscular portion of blood develop. AML develops if mutations occur in these cells during the process of their maturation into adult cells.

Acute myeloid leukemia: causes

As can be read on the AIRC official website, according to data from the Italian Association of Cancer Registries (AIRTUM), about 2000 new cases of myeloid leukemia are diagnosed every year in Italy, of which 1200 are in men and 900 cases are in women . The condition is more prevalent in men than in women and in adults over the age of 60. Indeed, it is rare for the disease to emerge before the age of 45. In children aged 0 to 14, it accounts for 13% of leukemia cases. The risk of developing AML is increased by some behavioral factors, such as cigarette smoking, while environmental factors that can cause risk include exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene and its derivatives, which are used in the chemical industry and in refineries.


Some cancer treatments, such as alkylating agents and platinum-based drugs used in chemotherapy as well as radiation used in radiotherapy, can increase your risk. As with other types of cancer, risk factors for AML have been identified that cannot be changed, which means that surgery is not possible. Two examples of these risk factors are being male and being over the age of 60 . Finally, some genetic diseases (such as Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia), as well as some chromosomal abnormalities, can increase the risk.

Leukemia: symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms of AML typically present very early, and the diagnosis is typically made shortly after a patient is seen. These symptoms are often vague: fatigue, loss of appetite, fever. Following this, weakness and paleness related to anemia , as well as an increased risk of infection caused by the reduction of healthy white blood cells. Systemic symptoms include body aches, malaise, and weight loss. Also, if the disease extends to other organs, symptoms such as enlarged spleen, liver and lymph nodes may be noted.

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The first step in determining if someone has AML is getting a medical exam. The doctor will consider the patient's family history, symptoms and any signs that could indicate the disease. Leukemia causes anemia, decrease in platelets and increase or decrease in white blood cells, so a blood test will indicate all the values ​​that could exclude or not the disease; the appearance of the cells seen under a microscope helps eliminate doubts and arrive at a more precise diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is leukemia, chemotherapy is the main treatment, followed if possible by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. On December 16, 2022 , football coach Siniša Mihajlović passed away precisely because of this disease, which he had been struggling with for a long time.

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