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Survival

With the targeted drug treatments that are now available for CML most people do very well on treatment. 

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.

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

No UK-wide statistics are available for CML survival.

These statistics are for people with CML in England, diagnosed between 2008 and 2010. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

Generally for CML more than 70 out of 100 men (more than 70%) and almost 75 out of 100 women (almost 75%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. This is for all ages. Younger people tend to have a better outlook than older people. 

For people aged between 15 and 64, almost 90 out of 100 (almost 90%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

For people aged 65 or over, more than 40 out of 100 (more than 40%) will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more.

What affects survival

Your outlook depends on your response to treatment and how well you tolerate it. 

Most patients are diagnosed when they are in chronic phase but can still respond well if they are diagnosed in accelerated or blast phase. 

CML is usually a slowly developing condition and treatment can keep it under control for many years. Targeted cancer drugs (tyrosine kinase inhibitors TKI) work very well.

People can go into remission for many years. This is when the disease isn’t active, you don't have symptoms and the full blood count is normal. CML may be measured at very low molecular levels in the blood and different levels of molecular remission can be achieved. If the molecular levels of CML increase then a different TKI can be given.

If targeted cancer drugs don't work, you’re likely to have intensive treatment with a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

CML that has entered the blast phase is more difficult to manage. Treatment can sometimes get it back into chronic phase, where it’s not so difficult to keep under control. If CML in blast phase doesn’t respond to treatment, unfortunately you are more likely to live for months, rather than years.

About these statistics

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

Clinical trials

Doctors continue to try to improve the treatments and outlook for people with CML through clinical trials.

More statistics

For more in-depth information about survival and CML, go to Cancer Research UK's Cancer Statistics section.

You can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, if you would like to discuss anything further after reading this page.
Last reviewed: 
28 May 2019
  • National Cancer Intelligence Network. Trends in incidence and outcome for haematological cancer in England: 2001 - 2010
    Public Health England, 2014

  • Hoffbrand's Essential Haematology
    AV Hoffbrand and PAH Moss
    Wiley Blackwell, 2016

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2015

  • Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia
    RA Van Etten
    UpToDate website (accessed 13/08/2018)

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