The survival rate for leukemia can depend on the type of leukemia. Your individual outlook can also depend on your age and your overall health.

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects blood and bone marrow instead of a particular organ or location. Treatments for all types of leukemia have progressed in recent decades. Researchers have developed targeted therapies that are very effective, and not as damaging to your overall health.

Generally, your treatment’s effectiveness and your chances of recovery are estimated using statistics called survival rates. Keep reading to learn more about survival rates for different types of leukemia, and how these rates are estimated.

Survival rates are estimates that can help give you an outlook on your diagnosis.

Five-year relative survival rates are most common. These estimates can give you an idea of how your health will be affected 5 years after a diagnosis.

Experts use survival rates to give an outlook for a wide variety of diseases and conditions. With leukemia, these estimates are usually grouped by leukemia type or subtype, and what age group you fall into when diagnosed.

Some forms of leukemia that mostly affect children — like acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) — may be considered cured after 5 years of remission. This is because they are unlikely to return after that much time.

When you get the 5-year survival rate for your diagnosis, you’ll receive a percentage. This number represents the percentage of people who are still alive 5 years after a diagnosis.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all types of leukemia is 65 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Not considering age, new leukemia rates haven’t changed much since 2019. Death rates have fallen by almost 2 percent every year since 2009.

When looking at survival rates, also consider that these percentages are based on data collected several years before the most recent estimate. This means that newer treatments or advances in detection and staging may not factor into these calculations.

How common is leukemia?

The NCI reports that leukemia makes up about 3.2 percent of all cancer types in the U.S. Experts expect about 61,000 new cases to be diagnosed in 2021 and almost 24,000 deaths.

Was this helpful?

Five-year survival rates are based on leukemia type, but can also vary based on your age, cancer stage, and what treatments you receive. Your overall health and any other conditions you may have can also play a role in your outlook.

TypeAge rangeSurvival rate
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)This type of leukemia is most common in older adults, but it can be diagnosed at any age. Most deaths occur in people ages 65 to 84.Relative survival rate for all ages 5 years after diagnosis is about 29.5%.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)This type of leukemia is mostly diagnosed in younger people under age 20. The median age at diagnosis is 17, but the median age in people who die from this type of leukemia is 58.Survival rates are pretty even across all ages, and the relative survival rate for all ages is 69.9%.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)This form of leukemia mostly affects adults over the age of 55.The relative 5-year survival rate for people of all ages with this form of leukemia is 87.2%.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)This type of leukemia is also most prominent in adults over age 55.Five-year survival rate for all ages for this type of leukemia is about 70.6%.
Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML)Most cases occur in people 60 years of age and over. It’s rare for CMML to be diagnosed in someone under 40.The 5-year survival rate for people with CMML depends on their subtype. CMML-1 has a 20% survival rate after 5 years, but CMML-2 has a 10% survival rate at 5 years.

The subtype of this leukemia doesn’t only affect survival rates. It can also have an impact on how likely you are to be diagnosed with other types of cancer later on.

Survival rates vary by age group depending on the type of leukemia you have.

For example, ALL is most prominent in younger people. There may be more cases and deaths in younger people with this form of the disease.

When you look at survival rates, though, most types of leukemia have lower 5-year survival rates in older adults, including ALL.

Many things come into play when considering individual survival rates for leukemia. Cancer staging is a major factor.

Not much information is available on survival rates for every type and stage of leukemia, especially for each age group. We do know that when cancers like leukemia have reached advanced stages, they spread to new locations or become more severe. Generally speaking, survival rates decrease as staging advances.

Survival rates for all types of leukemia have increased over the last few decades as diagnosis and treatment methods have improved.

Five-year survival rates look back at people diagnosed at least 5 years ago. Because of this, it can take some time for rates to match scientific progress. Talk with your doctor about new treatment options, and the outlook for your individual situation.

Even if treatments haven’t resulted in significant improvements in survival rates for your specific type of leukemia yet, advances like the Human Genome Project are resulting in additional treatment strategies all the time. Your doctor can help you find clinical trials or research studies investigating new treatment methods for your specific type of leukemia.

Five-year survival rates can give you an idea of how long people with a specific type of leukemia survive after diagnosis. With leukemia, survival rates depend on:

  • the type of leukemia you have
  • your age
  • your overall health
  • how soon your cancer was detected

Once you know the survival rate for your diagnosis, keep in mind that outlooks are never the same for two people. Everyone can respond differently to treatment. Your medical team can help recommend lifestyle changes and other ways to increase your chances of successful treatment.