Leukemia - B-cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia and Hairy Cell Leukemia: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with leukemia each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with either of these cancers and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with leukemia?

In 2023, an estimated 59,610 people of all ages (35,670 men and boys and 23,940 women and girls) in the United States will be diagnosed with leukemia. Worldwide, an estimated 474,519 people were diagnosed with leukemia in 2020.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukemia in adults 20 years and older, accounting for 38% of U.S. cases. An estimated 18,740 people (12,130 men and boys and 6,610 women and girls) in the United States will be diagnosed with CLL in 2023, though CLL is rare in children.

It is estimated that 4,490 deaths (2,830 men and 1,660 women) from CLL will occur in the United States in 2023.

There are no current estimates for how many people develop prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL). Around 700 people are diagnosed with hairy cell leukemia (HCL) each year in the United States.

What is the survival rate for leukemia?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from leukemia. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with leukemia are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with leukemia are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for people age 20 and older with CLL in the United States is 88%. 

The survival rates for leukemia vary based on several factors. These include certain biologic features of the cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for leukemia every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how leukemia is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It describes the factors that may increase the chance of developing leukemia. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.