Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Leukemia affects the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In a healthy individual the bone marrow makes immature cells (stem cells) that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell can become a myeloid stem cell or lymphoid stem cell. A myeloid stem cell can become a red blood cell that helps carry oxygen to all the organs and tissues of the body, a platelet that helps to form blood clots to stop bleeding, and a white blood cell that help fight infection.
In AML the myeloid stem cell becomes a type of immature white blood cell called myeloblasts. In AML these myeloblasts are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. As the number of leukemia cells increase in the bone marrow and blood there is less room for white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. When this happens, infection, anemia or easy bleeding may occur.