Skip to content
Back to news

Acute Myeloid Leukemia World Awareness Day: 6 things you should know about this disease

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a rare and aggressive cancer. It is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow marked by rapid disease progression if untreated. On April 21, AML World Awareness Day, we are confirming our commitment to the fight against hematological cancers and sharing six things you need to know about this disease.

1 – Acute myeloid leukemia is a rare disease that sets in suddenly and progresses quickly ifuntreated.

This cancer is a proliferation of immature cells, which means the cells are not sufficiently developed and so cannot function normally. These cancerous cells are present in the blood, this is why the term “leukemia” is used, and they arise from myeloid blast hence the term “myeloid”. The disease occurs when there are changes in the DNA of a stem cell of the bone marrow during the development stage.

2 – Acute myeloid leukemia is the most common acute leukemia in adults.

AML affects 5 out of 100,000 people in Europe, with more than 20,000 new cases diagnosed per year1. The two-year survival rate for patients aged 75 years and older is less than 10%.

3 – For most people affected by the disease, there are no apparent causes.

However, certain risk factors exist, such as:

  • Age: After the age of 65 the risk of being diagnosed with the disease increases
  • Men are more likely to develop AML
  • Previous cancer treatments
  • Exposure to dangerous products like benzene
  • Smoking
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • The evolution of certain cancers and blood diseases

4 – The main treatment for AML is based on chemotherapy.

The goal of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also be supplemented with targeted therapies that aim to limit the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, a stem cell transplant may be considered.

Because the side effects of treatment and the symptoms of the disease are significant, patients are usually offered supportive care.

5 – Collaborating with patients is essential to better understanding their needs.

In order to better meet their needs, we work with patients at every stage of the drug life cycle.

For example, Servier is working with international patient coalition ALAN (Acute Leukemia Advocates Network) to identify and better incorporate the needs of people with leukemia.

6 – Research and innovation, a source of hope for patients.

Faced with the continual increase of cancer cases and the growing need for therapeutic solutions, Servier has made oncology one of our strategic priorities and devote more than half of our R&D budget to it. Our goal is to become a renowned, innovative player in cancer treatment, particularly in difficult-to-treat cancers where the need is still unmet for the most part, such as AML.

We lead our R&D programs around two approaches: immune-oncology and targeted therapies.

[1] ESMO Guidelines 2020 – Acute myeloid leukemia in adult patients: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up