Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jul 26, 2023
  • Author: Karen Seiter, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Failure to rapidly distinguish a patient with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) from a patient with a less urgent hematologic disorder is the most important medicolegal pitfall in this setting.

Pancytopenia, for example, can be caused by a large variety of diseases of varying severity, including vitamin deficiencies and autoimmune disease. However, pancytopenia due to acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a life-threatening emergency that must be aggressively treated immediately. The easiest way to avoid misdiagnosis is to review the peripheral blood smear at the time of initial evaluation of all patients with hematologic disorders.

Another condition that should be considered in the evaluation of AML is agranulocytosis, a severe subset of neutropenia.

Differential Diagnoses