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The number of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who enter remission, stay in remission for years or are cured has increased significantly over the past 30 years. Most children with ALL are cured of their disease after treatment. Several areas of research have contributed to this progress.

Relative Survival Rate

Relative survival compares (1) how long a person with a disease survives after being diagnosed to (2) how long a person without the disease lives. Survival statistics for ALL are usually reported as five-year survival rates.

In children younger than 15 years old, the five-year relative survival rate has increased from less than 3 percent in 1964 to 91.2 percent in 2008 as a result of successful treatments made possible by clinical trials. The chart below shows how childhood ALL five-year survival rates have improved significantly over the past four decades.

In adults, the chance of remission has increased dramatically in the last several years, and extended remissions are also more common. Several areas of ongoing research are likely to lead to further progress.

Below are the total averaged ALL five-year relative survival rates for 2002 to 2008, by age at diagnosis:

  • People (including adults and children) diagnosed with ALL have a total averaged five-year relative survival rate of 67.9 percent.
  • Children younger than 5 years have a total average five-year relative survival rate of 92.1 percent.

There will be an estimated 1,440 deaths from ALL in 2012.

Treatment Results

Treatment results and outcomes vary among patients. Recent improvements in treatment and care may not be reflected in these rates. Newer treatment therapies, progress in stem cell transplantation, better supportive care and studies of new drugs in clinical trials are all contributing to improved outcomes and quality of life for people diagnosed with blood cancers.

Source: SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2009, National Cancer Institute, 2012.

last updated on Friday, April 19, 2013
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