Screening offers one of the best ways to detect acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at the earliest possible point, when options for treatment and cure are best. Screening exams can sometimes even detect the disorder before any symptoms arise.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Tests

To test for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), your OSUCCC – James experts may conduct a variety of tests, including:

Physical Exam

During a physical exam, your doctor will check general signs of health, look for any lumps or other unusual signs of disease and discuss health habits and past illnesses.

Blood Tests

A small amount of blood can be used to detect low levels of certain blood cells or abnormal blood cells. Blood tests can also reveal blood disorders, like myelodysplastic syndrome, which is a risk factor for AML.

Peripheral Blood Smear

Blood cells can be analyzed in the laboratory to check for leukemia cells, count the kinds of cells and analyze any changes in blood cell shapes.

Bone Marrow Aspiration & Biopsy

During a bone marrow aspiration, your OSUCCC – James specialist will insert a hollow needle into a part of the hip bone to remove a small sample of liquid bone marrow.

For a bone marrow biopsy, a hollow needle is inserted into a part of the hip bone to collect a small sample of bone and marrow.


This process identifies cells based on the kind of specific markers (genetic and molecular identifiers) on the surface of the cells. Immunophenotyping may include special staining of the blood cells.

RT–PCR Test (Reverse Transcription—Polymerase Chain Reaction Test)

This test analyzes how a tissue sample reacts to certain chemicals, which enables the experts to look for changes in gene structure or function. The test is used to diagnose certain subtypes of AML, such as acute promyelocytic leukemia.

Cytogenetic Analysis

Cytogenetic studies look for any abnormal chromosomes (where genes are contained) that can lead to AML. Identifying certain abnormalities enables the OSUCCC – James team of experts to design the best kind of individualized treatment.

Fluorescent in situ hybridization, or FISH, is one kind of cytogenetic analysis that studies chromosomes for certain changes.

Classification of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

There is no such thing as routine acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It behaves differently from person to person, case to case. By classifying AML as either Untreated, In Remission or Recurrent, the OSUCCC – James AML experts can plan the most targeted, accurate way to treat your specific disease. This in turn means improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

Untreated Adult AML

In untreated adult AML, the disease is newly diagnosed. The patient has not yet been treated except for relief of symptoms such as fever, bleeding or pain, and:

  • The complete blood count is abnormal
  • At least 20 percent of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts (leukemia cells)
  • There are signs or symptoms of leukemia

Adult AML in Remission

Adult AML in remission means the patient has been treated for the disease, and:

  • The complete blood count is normal
  • Less than 5 percent of the cells in the bone marrow are blasts (leukemia cells)
  • There are no signs or symptoms of leukemia in the brain and spinal cord or elsewhere in the body.

Recurrent Adult AML

Recurrent adult AML is cancer that has come back after the patient has received treatment. The disease may come back in the blood or bone marrow.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)


The internationally recognized experts at the OSUCCC – James believe the best way to treat patients and manage their disease successfully is to be at the forefront of delivering the latest, most effective treatments available and by working with nationally and internationally renowned experts to develop the newest and best acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treatments and programs.

Because these renowned subspecialists understand that AML is a complex disease, they use the most effective means of treating patients through an expert team approach from across multiple medical disciplines. These teams also run groundbreaking studies, and through detailed observations, evaluate the latest treatments and targeted therapies.

The OSUCCC – James team of experts analyzes the genetic composition of each individual’s leukemia to determine the best possible treatment, offering improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

If you’ve been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a leukemia specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210