What is acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)?

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

APL is a special subtype of AML. It differs from other subtypes of AML in that patients are, on average, younger (median age 40 y) and most often present with pancytopenia rather than with elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts. In fact, WBC counts higher than 5000 cells/µL at presentation are associated with a poor prognosis.

APL is also the subtype of AML that is most commonly associated with coagulopathy due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and fibrinolysis. Therefore, aggressive supportive care is an important component of the treatment of APL. Platelets should be transfused to maintain a platelet count of at least 30,000/µL (preferably 50,000/µL). Administer cryoprecipitate to patients whose fibrinogen level is less than 100 mg/dL.


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