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Acute Myeloid Leukemia
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is also called acute myelogenous leukemia. It is a fast-growing cancer of the bone marrow and blood cells. Cells that should become white blood cells (WBCs) do not fully grow. These cells are called myeloblasts and monoblasts. They do not fight infection like a normal WBC should. They crowd the bone marrow and prevent normal blood cells from growing and fighting infection.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and are short of breath.
- You have chest pain.
- You have more pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have a headache, stiff neck, or have trouble seeing or thinking clearly.
- You received chemotherapy in the last 2 weeks and you have a fever.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have blood in your spit or vomit.
- You are coughing or have shortness of breath.
- You feel dizzy or your heart begins to beat very fast.
- You have sores or white patches in your mouth or throat.
- You have rectal pain or hemorrhoids.
- You have diarrhea or bloody bowel movements.
- You have pain in your eyes, ears, skin, joints, or stomach.
- You have pain when you urinate or bad-smelling urine.
- Your gums and nose are bleeding.
- You have blurred vision or blood spots in the whites of your eyes.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Chemotherapy must be taken exactly as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Antibiotics fight or prevent infection caused by bacteria. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better sooner.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Wash your hands often. Wash especially after you change a diaper or go to the bathroom. Wash your hands before you prepare food or eat.
- Avoid people who are sick. Stay away from people who have a cold or the flu. Also try to stay away from large groups of people to decrease your risk of getting a cold or flu.
- Clean your humidifier. Change the water in your humidifier or other respiratory equipment daily.
Prevent bleeding and bruising:
- Do not use sharp objects. Use an electric razor to shave. Use a nail file to keep your nails short and smooth.
- Care for your mouth. Use a soft toothbrush. Do not floss your teeth while your platelet count is low. Do not use toothpicks.
- Choose light activities. Avoid any activity that may cause chest pain or trouble breathing. Do not play contact sports, such as football or soccer. Do not travel to high altitudes.
- Blow your nose gently. Do not pick your nose. Your nose may bleed if you pick it.
- Do not take NSAIDs or aspirin. NSAIDs and aspirin thin your blood and increase your risk for bleeding.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol:
Alcohol can thin your blood and make it easier to bleed. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke or drink and need help quitting.
High-fiber foods, extra liquids, and regular exercise can help you prevent constipation. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruit and bran. Prune juice and water are good liquids to drink. Regular exercise helps your digestive system work. You may also be told to take over-the-counter fiber and stool softener medicines. Take these items as directed.
Eat healthy foods:
Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. If you have trouble swallowing, you may be given foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask your healthcare provider about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your healthcare provider if you have problems eating, or if you are getting nauseated.
Drink liquids as directed:
You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids to drink and how much you need each day.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.