By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
AML – Five Basic Questions and Answers
- What is it?
AML, an abbreviation for acute myeloid leukemia, is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer. It is caused by an increase in production of immature white blood cells. These types of cells can also be called blasts.
- Is it common?
While most people will encounter someone with this type of cancer in their lifetime, it is still considered uncommon. Less than 200,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with AML annually. It occurs more frequently in young children and older adults. Last year, just over 21,000 cases of acute myeloid leukemia were diagnosed in the United States according to the American Cancer Society.
- How do I know if I have it?
The most common symptom for AML is fatigue. This is problematic because being tired can be attributed to so many other things than cancer, which leads to late diagnosis for many patients. Other signs of AML that people should be aware of are recurrent infections and bleeding easily. These symptoms can also be ignored or pushed aside, especially in older people who may get sick easily or be on medications, such as blood thinners, for other conditions that can mask the real reason for bruising. “If someone is experiencing fatigue paired with one or both of the other common AML symptoms, it is a red flag for them to get to a doctor for blood tests,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder and CEO of Causenta. “This would be a time when bells should be sounding in your ears that something is not right.”
- Are there risk factors?
As with most cancers, there are certain risk factors. In the case of AML, most of the risks apply to cases with adults and not pediatric instances of AML. A recent study by the American Journal of Hematology reviewed over 7,000 cases of AML in adults and found a direct correlation to smoking cigarettes. “So, now we know that both AML and lung cancer are linked to smoking,” says Incledon. “We know that smoking has damaging effects on our health and continued research will likely show that other cancers can be linked to smoking.” Gene mutations, exposure to certain chemicals or chemotherapy from other cancer treatments, and various environmental factors are also seen as creating higher risk for developing AML.
- What are my treatment options?
General treatment strategies or standard of care therapies are chemotherapy and other types of drugs called enzyme inhibitors. These medications target the leukemic cells and prevent them from dividing and replicating, which slows the cancer’s growth in the body. After a patient experiences success with one of these treatments and white blood cell levels are more under control, a bone marrow transplant may be considered. This surgical procedure will place healthy cells into the host patient in the hopes that the body will begin replicating these healthy cells instead of cancer cells.
For more information about AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and treatment options at Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.
Digestive tract cancers are considered to be ampullary cancer. Unfortunately, as with a lot of other cancers, we are seeing an increase in cases of ampullary cancer. Also, based on the location in the body and similarities to how the cancer forms and can be treated, ampullary cancer is often categorized with pancreatic cancer, even though they are technically not the same thing.
Now that you know what it’s not, what is it?
Ampullary cancer or ampullary carcinoma refers to cancer that occurs in the Ampulla of Vater or hepatopancreatic duct. Basically, this is where the pancreatic and bile ducts connect near the small intestine. “It’s a part of the body that most people don’t know exists until there’s a problem,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder and CEO of Causenta. “The Ampulla of Vater’s job is to push secretions into the small intestine to assist in the digestive process.”
There are a few specific concerns with ampullary cancer:
- Location: As a central part of the digestive system, ampullary cancer can spread to other important organs quickly. The cancer cells can also use the digestive and circulatory systems to travel throughout the body. Once ampullary cancer metastasizes from the original tumor, it can really go anywhere in the body.
- Awareness: Because people are unaware of this body part, symptoms can often go unnoticed or be attributed to another health concern until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
- Late Diagnosis: Once ampullary cancer is diagnosed, the cancer has usually progressed and spread, limiting treatment options. Ideally with this type of cancer, you want to find it early and surgically remove the tumor for the best long-term results.
- Lack of Research: There is not a lot known about ampullary cancer in the oncology and research fields, so patients with ampullary are faced with a lot of unknowns, including additional treatment strategies and proven effectiveness. Especially in the case of ampullary cancer, it is important to take action quickly; second opinions are not helpful in these cases since every physician is working from the same body of research and information.
Some patients are diagnosed with periampullary cancer; this means that the cancer originated near the Ampulla of Vater in either the head of the pancreas, the distal common bile duct, or the duodenum. As with pancreatic cancer, periampullary cancer has similarities to ampullary cancer, but they are not the same thing.
Ampullary cancer is more common in adults over 50. “We specifically see an increase in cases in men over 50 and women at age 55 and above,” says Incledon. “These increases are small. However, at age 65 for both genders, the rate of this cancer more sharply increases.”
For more information about ampullary cancer and treatment at Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.