Which clinical history findings related to deficiency of normally functioning cells suggest pediatric acute myelocytic leukemia (AML)?

Updated: Sep 12, 2017
  • Author: Mark E Weinblatt, MD; Chief Editor: Jennifer Reikes Willert, MD  more...
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Cytopenias can result from a deficiency of normally functioning cells.

Anemia, a common finding, is characterized by pallor, fatigue, tachycardia, and headache. The major pathophysiologic mechanism is related to decreased production in the infiltrated bone marrow. Bleeding, hemolysis, and sequestration and destruction in an enlarged spleen or liver may all contribute to anemia.

Another symptom, hemorrhage due to thrombocytopenia, is in part due to decreased production of megakaryocytes in the bone marrow. The most common findings are easy bruising, petechiae, epistaxis, gingival bleeding, and, sometimes, GI or CNS hemorrhage. The patient with disseminated intravascular coagulation might also have symptoms of hemorrhage or thrombosis, including painful swelling and sharp, colored demarcation of an extremity.

Fever is a common presenting complaint in patients with acute leukemia. In this context, fever should initially always be attributed to infection. Depending on the site of infection, symptoms may vary. Symptoms may be pulmonary (eg, cough, dyspnea, hypoxia, chest pain), as in patients with pneumonias; neurologic (eg, lethargy, emesis, headache), as in patients with meningitis; or other (eg, pain or changes in bladder and bowel function due to colitis or urinary tract infection).

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