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Survival

Find out about survival for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. 

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. Remember, they can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Survival statistics for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

No UK-wide statistics are available for ALL survival.

The following survival statistics are for people diagnosed with ALL in England between 2008 and 2010. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).

Generally for people with ALL:

  • around 70 out of 100 people (70%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed

This is for people of all ages. Younger people tend to do much better than older people:

  • in those aged 14 or younger, more than 90 out of 100 (more than 90%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • in those aged between 15 and 24, almost 70 out of 100 (almost 70%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • in those aged between 25 and 64, almost 40 out of 100 (almost 40%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • in those aged 65 or older, almost 15 out of 100 (almost 15%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis

What affects survival

Your age affects outlook. Younger people have a better prognosis. 

Outlook depends on the specific type of white blood cell the leukaemia affects. It is also affected by changes in your chromosomes or genes. These are called cytogenetic tests. Some specific genetic abnormalities in your leukaemia cells may make your leukaemia harder to treat successfully.

Survival is also affected by how advanced the leukaemia is at diagnosis. If you have a high number of white blood cells in the blood at diagnosis, the outlook is poorer. And your outlook is worse if you have leukaemia cells in your brain or spinal fluid when you are diagnosed. 

Your outlook is affected by how well the leukaemia responds to treatment and how long it takes to get a remission. Remission means the leukaemia is not active and doctors cannot find any sign of it. If it takes more than 3 or 4 weeks to get your leukaemia under control, or leukaemia cells are left after your first cycle of chemotherapy, your leukaemia may be more difficult to treat successfully.

If the leukaemia comes back (relapses) after treatment, it is sometimes possible to have a second remission with more chemotherapy. 

About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer.

The statistics on this page are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than leukaemia. This gives a more accurate picture of leukaemia survival.

More statistics

For more in-depth information about survival and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

Last reviewed: 
11 Jun 2015
  • Trends in incidence and outcome of haematological cancers in England 2001-2010
    National Cancer Intelligence Network, 2014

  • Cancer Research UK (Cancer Stats)

    Accessed 2015

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

    UpToDate, Accessed 2015

  • Cancer and its management (6th edition)

    J Tobias and D Hochhauser

    Wiley Blackwell, 2010

  • Cancer - principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)

    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg

    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

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