Because AML usually develops quickly, treatment needs to begin as soon as you are diagnosed. To ensure you receive the best care, your specialist will arrange for a team of health professionals to plan your treatment based on your preferences and needs.
The team will be made up of professionals who have experience managing and supporting a person with AML. Your specialist will tell you when the team will be discussing your case. Immediate treatment is often required for AML, so your team might not be able to meet until after your treatment has begun.
Your team will plan your ongoing care and should discuss the different treatment options with you including the likely outcomes, possible side effects and the risks and benefits.
Your doctor may also suggest you consider taking part in a clinical trial.
Let your team know about any complementary therapies you are using or thinking about trying. Some therapies may not be appropriate, depending on your medical treatment.
There are a number of ways to treat AML. In some cases, more than one type of treatment could be used to get the best outcome.
Intensive chemotherapy is the most common treatment. For some people, very high doses of chemotherapy are needed to effectively treat their AML. There are usually two stages in this treatment: the induction stage to remove the leukaemia cells (remission), and the consolidation stage to help prevent the leukaemia from reappearing.
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) may be given in combination with chemotherapy or before a stem cell transplant.
Allogeneic stem cell transplant
An allogeneic stem cell transplant (allo-SCT) replaces the blood-forming cells that have been destroyed during intensive chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Stem cells are collected from the blood of a suitable donor and put into the patient’s blood stream through a drip into a vein.
Palliative treatment will be used at different stages to relieve various symptoms and help to improve your quality of life.
Sometimes the leukaemia does not respond to treatment (called refractory disease). Some patients may be offered a stem cell transplant. For people who are not suitable for a transplant, palliative treatment will be offered.
Your doctor should discuss your needs with you during and after treatment (including physical, psychological, social and information needs) and may refer you to another service or health professional for different aspects of your care.
For more information about treatment and treatment side effects ask your doctor or visit www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/treatment.