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A Glossary of Medical Terms for AML Patients & Caregivers
Posted: Jun 06, 2024
A Glossary of Medical Terms for AML Patients & Caregivers image

Medical terminology and abbreviations can be overwhelming for patients. Patients should feel encouraged to ask their medical team to explain terms that they do not understand. 

What Does AML Mean?

Acute myeloid leukemia, often abbreviated to AML, is a type of fast-growing cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. It is characterized by the presence of too many immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts. Myeloblasts become mature white blood cells called granulocytes, which include basophils, neutrophils, eosinophils, and monocytes. The myeloblasts found in patients with acute myeloid leukemia are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. Acute myeloid leukemia may also be referred to as acute myelogenous leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

Acute monocytic/monoblastic leukemia is a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia defined by the proportion of monocytic cells. In acute monocytic leukemia, most of the monocytic cells are promonocytes or monocytes, whereas, in acute monoblastic leukemia, the majority of monocytic cells are monoblasts. 

What is the Difference Between Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia?

Acute lymphocytic leukemia, also referred to as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and abbreviated to ALL, is another type of acute leukemia characterized by the presence of too many lymphoblasts, a type of immature white blood cell. Lymphoblasts differ from myeloblasts in that they develop into mature lymphocytes (see picture above). As acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia are both types of acute leukemias, the symptoms can be similar. In general, acute lymphocytic leukemia is more common in children, and acute myeloid leukemia is more common in older adults. 

What is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Leukemia?

In acute leukemias, such as acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia, the abnormal white blood cells are immature and cannot function, whereas, in chronic leukemias, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), the abnormal white blood cells may still function normally. Additionally, in acute leukemias, the abnormal white blood cells multiply rapidly, whereas chronic leukemias develop more gradually. 

What Does Prognosis Mean?

Prognosis is a term used by healthcare professionals meaning the likely outcome or course of the disease. 

What is a Bone Marrow Transplant?

A bone marrow transplant is a type of procedure where a patient receives healthy stem cells to replace their own. The transplant can be performed with the patient's cells (autologous) or with cells from a donor (allogeneic). 

What are Some Common Abbreviations Used in AML?

Below is a list of some abbreviations commonly used by healthcare professionals when discussing acute myeloid leukemia. 


AE Adverse event
Allo-HSCT Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
AML Acute myeloid leukemia
Ara-C Cytarabine
Auto-HSCT Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
BM Bone marrow
BMT Bone marrow transplant
BSC Best supportive care
CR Complete remission/response
DFS Disease-free survival
EFS Event-free survival
EMD Extramedullary disease, outside of the bone marrow
FU Follow-up
G-CSF Granulocyte stimulating factor
GvHD Graft-versus-host disease
Haplo Haploidentical
Hb Hemoglobin
HIDAC High-dose cytarabine
HLA Human leukocyte antigen
HMA Hypomethylating agents
IC Intensive chemotherapy
IV Intravenous
LDAC Low-dose cytarabine
MDS Myelodysplastic syndromes
MMRD Mismatched related donor
MMUD Mismatched unrelated donor
MRD Measurable/minimal residual disease
MUD Matched unrelated donor
ND AML Newly diagnosed AML
NRM Non relapse mortality
OS Overall survival
ORR Overall response rate
PB Peripheral blood
PD Progressive disease
PET/CT Combination of two imaging techniques for disease detection
PFS Progression-free survival
PO By mouth, orally
PR Partial remission/response
PS Performance status
QoL Quality of life
RBC Red blood cell
RCT Randomized controlled trial
RFS Relapse-free survival
R/R Relapsed/refractory
RT or RTx Radiation therapy or radiotherapy
SAE Serious adverse event
SC subcutaneous
SD Stable disease
TBI Total body irradiation
TEAE Treatment-emergent adverse event
TRAE Treatment-related adverse event
TRM Transplant related mortality
Tx Therapy
WBC White blood cell
7+3 Chemotherapy combination (daunorubicin and cytarabine)


Learn from AML Experts by Watching HealthTree University Videos! 

Interesting in learning more about AML? Watch videos taught by AML experts in HealthTree University by clicking the button below. 

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The author Dylan Barrett

about the author
Dylan Barrett

Dylan is a freelance medical writer based in Cork, Ireland. He previously worked in independent medical education while living in London and is now collaborating with HealthTree to develop resources for blood cancer patients. His background is in genetics, and he has a passion for innovative scientific research. In his spare time, he enjoys sports, traveling, and spending time with his family and friends.

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