SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Leukemia

Statistics at a GlanceShow More

At a Glance

  • Estimated New Cases in 2015 54,270
  • % of All New Cancer Cases3.3%
  • Estimated Deaths in 2015 24,450
  • % of All
    Cancer Deaths

Percent Surviving
5 Years

58.5% 2005-2011

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000: The number of new cases of leukemia was 13.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 7.0 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2008-2012 cases and deaths.

Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer: Approximately 1.5 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with leukemia at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.

Prevalence of This Cancer: In 2012, there were an estimated 318,389 people living with leukemia in the United States.

Survival StatisticsShow More

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Leukemia?

Relative survivalExternal Web Site Policy statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.


Percent Surviving
5 Years


Based on data from SEER 18 2005-2011. Gray figures represent those who have died from leukemia. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Additional Information

Number of New Cases and DeathsShow More

How Common Is This Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, leukemia is relatively rare.

Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2015
Deaths 2015
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 231,840 40,290
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 221,200 158,040
3. Prostate Cancer 220,800 27,540
4. Colon and Rectum Cancer 132,700 49,700
5. Bladder Cancer 74,000 16,000
6. Melanoma of the Skin 73,870 9,940
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 71,850 19,790
8. Thyroid Cancer 62,450 1,950
9. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 61,560 14,080
10. Endometrial Cancer 54,870 10,170
- - -
11. Leukemia 54,270 24,450

Leukemia represents 3.3% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.


In 2015, it is estimated that there will be 54,270 new cases of leukemia and an estimated 24,450 people will die of this disease.

Although leukemia is among the most common childhood cancers, it most often occurs in older adults. Leukemia is slightly more common in men than women. The number of new cases of leukemia was 13.3 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 cases.

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Leukemia
9.6% under 20; 4.5% 20-34; 5.0% 35-44; 10.3% 45-54; 17.3% 55-64; 21.2% 65-74; 21.2% 75-84; 10.9% 85 and older

Leukemia is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 75-84.

Median Age
At Diagnosis


SEER 18 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Leukemia
  • Male 17.0All RacesFemale 10.4
  • Male 17.9WhiteFemale 10.9
  • Male 13.5BlackFemale 8.5
  • Male 9.8Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 6.3
  • Male 10.1American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 7.2
  • Male 12.6HispanicFemale 8.9
  • Male 17.4Non-HispanicFemale 10.4

SEER 18 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

Death rates from leukemia are higher among the elderly. People with leukemia have many treatment options, and treatment for leukemia can often control the disease and its symptoms. Leukemia is the seventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 7.0 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2008-2012 deaths.

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Leukemia
2.4% under 20; 2.9% 20-34; 2.7% 35-44; 6.1% 45-54; 13.1% 55-64; 22.1% 65-74; 30.3% 75-84; 20.4% 85 and older

The percent of leukemia deaths is highest among people aged 75-84.

Median Age
At Death


U.S. 2008-2012, All Races, Both Sexes

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Leukemia
  • Male 9.4All RacesFemale 5.2
  • Male 9.7WhiteFemale 5.4
  • Male 7.9BlackFemale 4.7
  • Male 5.1Asian /
    Pacific Islander
    Female 3.2
  • Male 6.7American Indian /
    Alaska Native
    Female 3.2
  • Male 6.1HispanicFemale 4.0
  • Male 9.6Non-HispanicFemale 5.3

U.S. 2008-2012, Age-Adjusted

Trends in RatesShow More

Changes Over Time

Keeping track of the number of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.

Using statistical models for analysis, rates for new leukemia cases have been rising on average 0.2% each year over the last 10 years. Death rates have been falling on average 1.0% each year over 2003-2012. 5-year survival trends are shown below the figure.

More About This CancerShow More

Cancer and the Blood

Stem cells maturing into one of three types of mature blood cells: red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Precursor cells are also shown: stem cells, myeloid blasts, lymphoid stem cells, and lymphoid blasts.
Figure: Blood Cells Maturing from Stem Cells
Click to enlarge.

Leukemia is cancer that starts in the tissue that forms blood. Most blood cells develop from cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. Unlike normal blood cells, leukemia cells don't die when they should. They may crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This makes it hard for normal blood cells to do their work. The four main types of leukemia are:

There is no standard staging system for leukemia. The disease is described as untreated, in remissionExternal Web Site Policy, or recurrentExternal Web Site Policy.

Additional Information

More Information

Here are some resources for learning more about leukemia.


All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Most can be found within:

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Miller D, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z,Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2012, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2014 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2015.

Suggested Citation

All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Leukemia. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,

This factsheet focuses on population statistics that are based on the US population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer ProfilesExternal Web Site Policy.

The statistics presented in this factsheet are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. In some cases, different year spans may be used. Estimates for the current year are based on past data.

Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. This factsheet does not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although it provides links to information in many of these areas.