Survival statistics for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) | Cancer Research UK
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Survival statistics for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

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Survival statistics for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). There is information about


A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

Outlook means how quickly or slowly the leukaemia may develop and how long you may live. Doctors call this prognosis. The outcome of treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia depends on a number of different factors. This includes the stage of chronic leukaemia you have, how advanced it is when it is diagnosed, and how well it responds to treatment.

We have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of CLL. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of this website. They are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.


CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating CLL section.



Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) survival

Find out about survival for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. So, if you aren’t sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can come back to it later.

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

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with CLL. It depends on your individual situation, treatment and level of fitness.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.


Survival by stage

No UK-wide statistics are available for the different stages of CLL. The statistics below are published in the European Clinical Practice Guidelines for CLL. They are for median survival. This is the length of time from diagnosis to the point at which half of the patients are still alive.

CLL has 3 stages, called stage A, B and C.  A is the earliest stage, and C is the most advanced stage. 

  • In stage A, the median survival is more than 10 years. 
  • In stage B, the median survival is more than 8 years. 
  • In stage C, the median survival is around 6½ years.

Read more about the stages of CLL


Survival for all stages of CLL

No UK-wide statistics are available for CLL survival.

Statistics are available for CLL diagnosed in England between 2008 and 2010. They are from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. 

Generally for people with CLL

  • around 70 out of 100 men (around 70%) and almost 75 out of every 100 women (almost 75%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after being diagnosed. 

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

  • For those aged between 15 and 64, more than 80 out of 100 (more than 80%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 
  • For those who are 65 or older, more than 60 out of 100 (more than 60%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Although CLL is not usually curable, it often develops very slowly and treatment can keep it under control for many years. 

The time when the leukaemia is controlled by treatment and is not active is called remission. Remission means that you don't have symptoms and the CLL doesn't show up in your blood samples. CLL is likely to come back again, some time after your first lot of treatment. But it can then be possible to get it into a second remission, with more chemotherapy or other treatment.


What affects CLL survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of your CLL. This means how advanced it is when it is diagnosed. 

If you have abnormal white blood cells (lymphocytes) spread throughout the bone marrow, you have a worse outlook. Your outlook is also affected by how quickly your lymphocyte count increases. 

Your sex affects outlook. Women have a better prognosis than men. 

Survival is affected by changes in your chromosomes or genes. Doctor call these tests cytogenetics. Some specific genetic abnormalities in your leukaemia cells may make your leukaemia harder to treat successfully. 


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 leukaemia. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

On this page, the statistics for all stages of CLL 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.


Clinical trials

Clinical trials have improved the treatment for many types of cancer. Trials are currently aiming to improve treatment and increase survival rates for CLL. You can search for trials for chronic leukaemia on our clinical trials database


More statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics. For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), go to our Cancer Statistics section.

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Updated: 11 July 2013