A recent analysis of long-term survival trends among patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in the Netherlands indicates improved survival rates over a period of 28 years. The analysis was presented in the British Journal of Haematology.

Records were analyzed from the Netherlands Cancer Registry for 20,468 patients who had been diagnosed with CLL between 1989 and 2016. The researchers divided the study years into 4 diagnostic periods, and patient ages at diagnosis were categorized into 4 age groups.

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The primary outcomes included relative survival and relative survival rates, which were determined by dividing the overall survival statistics of patients in the study by the expected overall survival statistics for the demographically matched general population.

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Relative survival rates improved for patients with CLL in all age groups over time, even though excess mortality persisted to some degree for patients with CLL throughout the years of the study. In the age group of 18 to 59 years, the 10-year relative survival rate was 84% between 2009 and 2016, compared with 59% between 1989 and 1995 (P <.001). In the age group of 80 years or older, the 10-year relative survival rate was 56% in the most recent time period, compared with 32% in the period between 1989 and 1995 (P <.001).

The analysis revealed male sex or a history of prior malignancy negatively influenced survival. Male sex did not affect relative survival in the age group of 80 years or older.

According to the researchers, gains in relative survival over time in this study may be attributed to improvements in supportive care and therapies. The researchers noted that the study period predated the widespread availability of current novel agents in the Netherlands and that evaluations based on cytogenetic and molecular markers were not possible for this analysis.

“In summary, in this large, contemporary, nationwide population-based study, [relative survival] improved significantly over time among patients with CLL across all age groups,” the researchers stated.


1.     van der Straten L, Levin MD, Visser O, et al. Survival continues to increase in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: a population-based analysis among 20 468 patients diagnosed in the Netherlands between 1989 and 2016 [published online January 20, 2020]. Br J Haematol. doi:10.1111/bjh.16397