Survival depends on many different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. It depends on your:
- type and stage of cancer
- level of fitness
- previous treatment
These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. Remember, they can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.
Survival for all stages of CLL
No UK-wide statistics are available for CLL survival. Statistics are available for CLL diagnosed in one area of England between 2004 and 2016.
Generally for people with CLL:
- around 85 out of 100 people (around 85%) 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 younger than 60, around 95 out of 100 (around 95%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis
- for those aged between 60 and 69, almost 90 out of 100 (almost 90%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis
- for those aged between 70 and 79, more than 80 out of 100 (more than 80%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after diagnosis
- for those who are 80 or older, around 65 out of 100 (around 65%) 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.
Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN)
Accessed March 2021
The HMRN statistics are for estimated relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.
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. Tests called cytogenetics look for these changes. 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.