Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood usually in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow.
Normally, bone marrow cells mature into several different types of blood cells. Acute myelogenous leukemia usually affects the young blood cells (called blasts) that develop into a type of white blood cell (called granulocytes). The main function of granulocytes is to destroy bacteria. The blasts, which do not mature and become too numerous, remain in the bone marrow and blood. Acute leukemia can occur over a short period of days to weeks. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of AML (acute myelogenous leukemia) patients.
According to the American Cancer Society, of the 44,790 leukemia cases expected in 2009, AML will account for 12,810 of the acute cases in 2009.