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Cancer – Acute Leukemia Overview

June 7, 2021


So one of the scariest diagnoses for good reason is acute leukemia. The first thing that has to happen is you have to recognize what kind of leukemia it is, what kind of acute leukemia. And by that, I mean, you really need to see, is it something called APL, acute promyelocytic leukemia, otherwise known as M3. The reason that this is important is, this one leukemia type, which is actually more common in the thirties and forties, unlike the other ones that happen later in life, as well as a predominance in Latin Americans, it can be treated and potentially cured, with just what's called retinoic acid and arsenic. So you don't need intense chemotherapy and it can have a pretty good prognosis and survival, but it has to be recognized very quickly. It's M3 and it often presents with something called a DIC, or disseminated intravascular coagulation or coagulopathy. That plus a leukemia picture needs to look at the peripheral smear to see if something called an Auer rod is present on those blasts, and you immediately start retinoic acid if that's the case. APL or M3 has generally a much better favorable prognosis than the other types of acute myeloid leukemia.

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