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Survival

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. It depends on your individual condition, type of leukaemia, 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.

Outlook for AML

No UK wide statistics are available for AML survival.

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

Generally with AML, around 20 out of 100 people (around 20%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after their diagnosis.

Survival by age

Younger people tend to do much better than older people.
  • In children aged 14 or younger, more than 65 out of 100 children (more than 65%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.
  • In people aged between 15 and 24, around 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
  • In people aged between 25 and 64, almost 40 out of 100 people (almost 40%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.
  • In people aged 65 or older, around 5 out of 100 people (around 5%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

What affects outlook

Age

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

Changes in genes

Outlook is affected by changes in your genes. These are called cytogenetic tests.

Some specific genetic abnormalities in your leukaemia cells may make your leukaemia harder to treat successfully.
 

How advanced the leukaemia is

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. 
 

Changing from chronic to acute

The outcome depends on whether you had leukaemia that changed (transformed) from a chronic form into an acute form. It can be more difficult to treat leukaemia that has transformed, or if it has developed from a blood condition called myelodysplasia. 
 

Secondary leukaemia

It may also be harder to treat a leukaemia that has developed after treatment for another cancer. This is called a secondary leukaemia. It means that you developed leukaemia after earlier chemotherapy damaged your bone marrow cells. This is rare, but it can happen. Secondary leukaemia usually develops within 10 years of treatment for the first cancer.
 

How well leukaemia responds to treatment

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 a long time to get your leukaemia into remission, your leukaemia may be more difficult to treat successfully.
 

Relapse

If AML comes back after initial treatment it is called relapsed leukaemia. With relapsed AML, it is sometimes possible to get rid of all signs of the leukaemia again (a second remission) with more chemotherapy.
 

Last reviewed: 
10 Jul 2019
  • Trends in incidence and outcome of haematological cancers in England 2001-2010
    National Cancer Intelligence Network, 2014

  • Incidence statistics from Cancer Research UK (Cancer Stats)

  • Diagnosis and management of acute myeloid leukemia in adults: recommendations from an international expert panel, on behalf of the European LeukemiaNet
    H Dohner and others
    Blood, 2010, volume 115, Issue 3

  • Guidelines on the management of acute myeloid leukaemia in adults
    DW Milligan and others
    British Committee for Standards in Haematology, 2006, volume 135, issue 4

  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Treatment strategy and long-term results in paediatric patients treated in consecutive UK AML trials
    BE Gibson and others
    Leukaemia, 2005, volume 19, issue 12

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