Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a rapid and aggressive form of leukemia. While medical advancements have improved survival rates, AML remains a formidable disease.

The overall 5-year relative survival rate for AML is 29.8%. However, the outlook for each person will depend on their age, health, the specific genetic mutations present in the leukemia cells, and other factors.

AML occurs when immature myeloid cells inside the bone marrow begin growing out of control. This interferes with the production of healthy blood cells. Without medical treatment, AML can quickly spread.

This article explores AML survival rates, including the overall survival rate, survival rates by age, and survival rates in those who receive a bone marrow transplant.

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Doctors often measure cancer survival using a statistic known as the 5-year relative survival rate. This estimates how many people with a condition live for at least 5 years after diagnosis compared with those without that condition of a similar age.

For AML, the overall 5-year relative survival rate is 29.8%.

It is important to note that the 5-year relative survival rate is an estimate based on data collected from a large number of individuals with AML. It serves as a benchmark for understanding the overall outlook but does not predict the outcome for any specific individual.

Moreover, survival rates are based on historical data and may not reflect the most recent advancements in AML treatment. A person’s outlook may therefore be better than this statistic suggests.

AML survival rates can vary significantly based on the age of the person who receives the diagnosis. Generally, younger individuals live longer following diagnosis than older people.

According to data from 2004–2016, the percentages of people in the United Kingdom who survived for 5 years or more after an AML diagnosis were as follows:

  • Below the age of 40: more than 50%
  • Age 40–49: 45%
  • Age 50–59: 25%
  • Age 60–69: 15%
  • Age 70–79: 5%
  • Age 80 and older: 2%

These figures will differ based on location, access to treatment, and other factors.

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year overall survival rate for pediatric AML is higher than that of adults, ranging from approximately 65–70%.

It states that these figures vary depending on the subtype of AML and other factors. For example, the cure rate for acute promyelocytic leukemia, a subtype of AML, is now more than 80%. However, rates are lower for some other subtypes of AML.

Survival rates for children with AML have significantly improved over the years due to advancements in treatment protocols.

Bone marrow transplants, also known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), play a significant role in treating AML. This procedure involves replacing cancerous or damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells from the person’s own body or someone else’s.

The goal of HSCT is to replenish the bone marrow with healthy cells, allowing for the production of typical blood cells and potentially leading to long-term remission.

A 2016 study suggests that about 50% of individuals with AML who undergo a bone marrow transplant survive longer than 2 years. However, as with all cancer statistics, this will vary depending on a person’s unique circumstances.

Yes, AML is an aggressive cancer. It typically progresses quickly, with the atypical myeloid cells multiplying rapidly and overwhelming the typical cells in the bone marrow. This rapid proliferation can result in a rapid onset of symptoms and complications.

Several factors influence the outlook of a person with AML. These include:

  • Genetic mutations: Specific differences in genes and chromosomes can significantly impact the prognosis in AML. Individuals with certain mutations in genes such as FLT3, NPM1, and CEBPA typically have more favorable outcomes. Others have a higher risk of a less optimistic outlook.
  • Age: Younger individuals, particularly those under 60, tend to have better outcomes than older adults. Age-related factors, such as having other co-occurring conditions and reduced tolerance to intensive therapies, contribute to lower survival rates in older individuals.
  • Response to induction therapy: For some, initial induction therapy can lead to complete remission by reducing the leukemia cell burden. Complete remission is the absence of detectable leukemia cells. People who reach complete remission via induction therapy generally have better outcomes.
  • Overall health: Individuals with better health and organ function typically have a more favorable outlook.

Below are some answers to some common questions about AML survival.

Can AML go into remission?

Yes, AML can go into remission. This occurs in around 2 in 3 individuals with AML following standard induction chemotherapy.

Can chemotherapy cure AML?

Yes, chemotherapy has the potential to induce remission. It may be curative in some cases.

Can you fully recover from AML?

Full recovery from AML is possible, but it depends on various factors. These may include individual responses to treatment, cancer characteristics, and overall health.

Even after treatment that leads to remission, individuals may require ongoing monitoring.

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive form of cancer. Various factors, including genetics, age, response to treatment, and overall health, influence AML survival rates.

Full recovery is possible for some individuals, but ongoing monitoring is necessary. A personalized approach to AML treatment, considering individual factors and therapy advancements, offers hope for improved outcomes and long-term remission.