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Allmount Total Reaction Points: 1
Can anyone explain the difference to me between AML & ALL please? I've been on the Macmillan site & internet generally and it's as clear as mud! Thank you

Best Answer

  • Hayley_Anthony Nolan Hayley_Anthony Nolan Total Reaction Points: 79
    Answer ✓

    I am the nurse specialist in patient services, thank you for your question. As you probably know leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells and the difference between AML and ALL is the type of blood cell it affects. All blood cells begin as stem cells and when we need them they develop in to either a myeloid blood cell or a lymphoid blood cell. Myeloid cells in normal development will become white cells (fight infection) red cells (haemoglobin) and platelets (clotting) and lymphoid cells will develop in to white cells only.Leukaemia occurs when either the myeloid or lymphoid cells do not develop properly if its the myeloid cells the diagnosis will be acute myeloid leukaemia and if its the lymphoid cells the diagnosis will be acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. In rare cases both cell lines can be affected and this is called biphenotypic leukaemia.

    Symptoms for both are very similar and the only way of diagnosing which type of leukaemia is through blood tests and bone marrow biopsies. To make it slightly more confusing within ALL and AML there further subtypes of leukaemia, but again symptoms will not vary the diagnosis will be made through the above tests, looking at your blood and bone marrow at a DNA level.

    The main difference will be the treatment, ALL and AML have different treatment pathways because we know certain types of chemotherapy work well for AML and different types of chemotherapy work well for ALL. The type of treatment that is given will be decided based upon type of leukaemia, age and fitness.

    This is a very simple explanation and we do have some information on our webpage https://www.anthonynolan.org/patients-and-families/blood-cancers-and-blood-disorders/what-blood-cancer but another good website that will go in to more detail is Bloodwise, https://bloodwise.org.uk/info-support/leukaemia which I would recommend looking at.

    I hope this has helped and if you need any further information please get in touch.

    Best wishes


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