What is AML in oncology

The choice of therapy for acute leukemia depends on the exact diagnosis (AML or ALL), the additional features of the leukemia cells (see above), the age of the patient, his general condition and any accompanying illnesses. The following forms of treatment can be considered: curative therapy, palliative therapy, experimental therapy, supportive therapy, observation.

Curative therapy

This form of treatment aims to cure the patient. The most important part of curative therapy is intensive chemotherapy with several different drugs (so-called cytostatics). Such chemotherapy can usually only be carried out in the hospital and requires a good general condition of the patient and the absence of serious comorbidities. The therapy of almost all patients with acute leukemia who are treated with the aim of a cure takes place within the framework of so-called controlled therapy studies. These serve the purpose of further improving the current standard therapy by comparing different drugs or therapeutic approaches. Numerous studies have shown that patients treated within such studies have the best therapeutic results. Another option for treating acute leukemia is stem cell transplantation. With this form of therapy, the patient also receives intensive chemotherapy with several different drugs as well as radiation therapy with the aim of killing the leukemia cells. Then the healthy stem cells from a suitable donor are transfused.

Palliative therapy

The aim of this form of treatment is to maintain the patient's quality of life. The most important part of palliative therapy is less intensive chemotherapy with drugs that are as well tolerated as possible. This is intended to control the disease by reducing the number of leukemia cells in the bone marrow and in the blood. Palliative therapy is often carried out in elderly patients in a poor general condition or in the case of serious comorbidities. From the point of view of the patient's quality of life, palliative therapy should, if possible, be carried out under outpatient conditions.

Experimental Therapy

Here, new types of medication or therapy methods are used which may be effective in acute leukemia, but whose ultimate role in the treatment of these diseases has not yet been conclusively clarified. A large number of new experimental therapies are being carried out as part of clinical studies for acute leukemia at the Ulm University Hospital. The current status can be seen on our clinic website.

Supportive therapy

With this form of treatment, there is no specific anti-leukemia therapy, but supportive therapy based on the patient's complaints. The most important supportive measures include the transfusion of red blood cells for anemia, the transfusion of blood platelets for bleeding, the administration of antibiotics for infections and the administration of painkillers.


In some patients, for whom intensive therapy with the aim of a cure cannot be carried out, the leukemia shows a very slowly progressing course without serious symptoms. In such a case, a wait-and-see attitude with regular check-ups (general condition and blood values) may be sufficient. In the further course, it is often necessary to carry out palliative therapy or to initiate supportive measures.