What are the symptoms and signs of AML?

AML signs and symptoms result from the inability of the bone marrow to make healthy blood cells as a result of the excess of leukaemia cells. These include:

  • Anaemia (low red blood cell levels)
  • Pale appearance
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising, bleeding or petechiae (low platelets levels)
  • Petechiae are tiny (2 mm), flat, red/purple spots that develop in the skin because the tiny blood vessels collapse (Figure 3)
  • Frequent infections (low white blood cell levels)
  • Fever
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Rarely, AML leukaemia cells can penetrate the central nervous system (CNS) and cause the following neurological symptoms:
  • Impaired memory and cognition (Vasilatou et al 2014)
  • Extrapyramidal symptoms affecting motor control and coordination.
  • Extrapyramidal means of origin outside of the pyramidal tracts in the spinal cord.
  • Extrapyramidal tracts begin in the brain and carry motor fibres to the spinal cord. They are responsible for involuntary and automatic control of muscle tone, balance and posture.
  • Primitive reflexes such as grasp sign and ataxic gait .

Figure 3        Petechiae on leg of patient with AML

StatPearls Publishing LLC.2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482331/
Contributed by Rian Kabir, MD

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