Things to Know About Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia

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Things to Know About Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia

a person with APL

Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)is a serious condition that affects 600 to 800 people every year in the United States. It’s a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer that grows and metastasizes rapidly.

APL is a rare blood cancer that accounts for only 7 to 8 percent of general AML cases. However, proper treatment is essential to avoid severe complications.

Consult a medical professional if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of APL. Also, enroll in prescription assistance programs if you need help filling in prescriptions.

Here’s what you need to know about APL.

What Is APL?

Leukemia occurs in the tissues responsible for creating blood cells. Cases of leukemia are categorized as acute when they start developing swiftly.

Acute promyelocytic leukemia is a subtype of acute leukemia and one of the eight subdivisions of acute myeloid leukemia. It’s a relatively rare form of blood cancer that affects the patient’s bone marrow and boosts the number of promyelocytes in our body.

Causes of APL

The bone marrow consists of stem cells that develop into other types of cells, such as blood-producing cells. These include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. APL starts with a mutation in the body’s blood-producing cells (specifically on chromosomes 15 and 17). This results in the body creating an abnormal gene called PML/RARa.

APL causes the bone marrow to overproduce promyelocytes (an underdeveloped type of blood cell). This causes a build-up inside the bone marrow, which means that the body produces fewer healthy white blood cells.

As a result, people with APL encounter potentially life-threatening complications such as poor blood clotting.

Symptoms of APL

Unfortunately, symptoms of APL are not extremely specific and can be mistaken for other medical conditions, including other types of leukemia.

These symptoms usually include:

  1. Bleeding or swollen gums.
  2. Blood in the urine
  3. Enlarged liver
  4. Enlarged spleen
  5. Excessive bleeding even from the smallest cuts.
  6. Excessive menstrual bleeding
  7. Fatigue
  8. Feeling confused
  9. Feeling pain in the bones and joints.
  10. Fever
  11. Headaches
  12. Infections or illnesses that are more frequent
  13. Loss of appetite
  14. Night sweats
  15. Nose bleeds
  16. Pale complexion due to anemia
  17. Signs of bleeding. For example, bruising or tiny discolored spots.
  18. Slow healing from injuries
  19. Unexplained weight loss
  20. Visual changes


a person holding medicines

Early identification of APL symptoms can result in prompt diagnosis and treatment. However, many people refuse to get the help they need due to treatment expenses.

If you need financial assistance to fill prescriptions, contact us at Advocate My Meds. We are a prescription assistance organization that strives to assist uninsured Americans in paying for their prescription. That’s why we offer various prescription assistance programs with over 1,500 FDA-approved drugs, such as our Novo Nordisk patient assistance, Janssen patient assistance, and more.

Contact us today for more details.