Leukemia - Chronic Myeloid - CML: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) 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 this cancer 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 CML?

About 15% of all leukemia is CML. In 2023, an estimated 8,930 people (5,190 men and 3,740 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with CML. Most of these will be adults, with an average age of diagnosis at 64 years. Nearly 50% of cases occur in people over age 65. CML is rare in children.

It is estimated that 1,310 deaths (780 men and 530 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023.

What is the survival rate for CML?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from CML. 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 CML 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 CML 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 pace of CML treatment research is rapid, with several drug approvals in the past 2 decades. It is important to note that many of the new drugs for CML work very well, and survival rates are continually being measured based on these newer drugs. Due in large part to recent scientific advances in the area of targeted treatments like imatinib (Gleevec), which was approved in 2001, the 5-year relative survival rate for CML more than tripled from 22% for people diagnosed in the mid-1970s to 70% for those diagnosed between 2012 and 2018. In general, most people diagnosed with CML and treated with a targeted therapy currently are expected to live an average life span with the disease well controlled.  

The survival rates for CML vary based on several factors. These include the phase of the disease and other biologic factors, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for CML every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how CML 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, and the ACS website. Additional source wasSeigel R, et al.: Cancer Statistics 2023. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2023 Jan; 73(1):17–48. doi/full/10.3322/caac.21763. (All sources accessed January 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by CML. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.