Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in children

In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), white blood cells which are produced in bone marrow, are abnormal and do not become healthy cells. These abnormal cells crowd out the normal ones, so the child's body has a harder time fighting off infection.

Symptoms of AML often develop quickly and continue to get worse so early treatment is important.

Thanks to advances in therapy and clinical trials, the outlook for kids with AML has improved. With treatment, most are cured.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Diagnosing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in children

Symptoms can include:

  • Infection

  • Fever

  • Easy bruising

  • Bleeding that is hard to stop

  • Frequent nosebleeds

  • Pain in the bones or joints

  • Swollen glands

  • Poor appetite


To diagnose AML, your child’s doctor will ask questions about their medical history and do a physical examination. They will also take a small sample of your child’s bone marrow to examine under a microscope. This is called a bone marrow biopsy

Additional tests might include:

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UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.


What are the options?

Doctors usually treat children with acute myeloid leukemia with chemotherapy. Children with an aggressive type of AML might need a bone marrow transplant.

Fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders

The UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center team offers the most advanced treatment options. Our pediatric cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Search our clinical trials


Top-rated care

Comprehensive care within the American Family Children's Hospital pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant program means having the ability to readily access the knowledge and skills of many medical and supportive care specialists in the coordinated care of patients with a complex health diagnosis like cancer.

At American Family Children’s Hospital, you will find a friendly, child-centered environment. Our hospital is designed with relaxing spaces and areas where children are encouraged to play.

Meet our team

Experts dedicated to your child's care

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

When your child needs hospitalization, they will be admitted to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Child life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties. The American Family Children's Hospital patient and family visitor guide features information about:

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Restoring Hope Transplant House (for blood and bone marrow transplant)

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources

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Pediatric cancer services

With our expertise comes compassion. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We will be by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we will care for your child as if they are our own.

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