What is the most common risk factor for acute myeloid leukemia (AML)?

Updated: May 26, 2020
  • Author: Karen Seiter, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

The most common risk factor for AML is the presence of an antecedent hematologic disorder, the most common of which is myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). MDS is a bone marrow disease of unknown etiology that occurs most often in older patients and manifests as progressive cytopenias that occur over months to years. Patients with low-risk MDS (eg, MDS with ringed sideroblasts) generally do not develop AML, whereas patients with high-risk MDS (eg, MDS with excess blasts) frequently do.

Other antecedent hematologic disorders that predispose patients to AML include aplastic anemia and myeloproliferative disorders, especially myelofibrosis.


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