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U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute

SEER Stat Fact Sheets


It is estimated that 44,270 men and women (25,180 men and 19,090 women) will be diagnosed with and 21,710 men and women will die of leukemia in 20081.

The following information is based on NCI’s SEER Cancer Statistics Review2.

Incidence & Mortality

SEER Incidence

From 2001-2005, the median age at diagnosis for leukemia was 67 years of age3. Approximately 11.0% were diagnosed under age 20; 4.7% between 20 and 34; 5.6% between 35 and 44; 10.0% between 45 and 54; 14.8% between 55 and 64; 20.2% between 65 and 74; 23.4% between 75 and 84; and 10.3% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted incidence rate was 12.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are based on cases diagnosed in 2001-2005 from 17 SEER geographic areas.

Incidence Rates by Race
All Races16.0 per 100,000 men9.5 per 100,000 women
White16.7 per 100,000 men9.9 per 100,000 women
Black13.0 per 100,000 men8.0 per 100,000 women
Asian/Pacific Islander 9.1 per 100,000 men5.9 per 100,000 women
American Indian/Alaska Native a7.9 per 100,000 men6.9 per 100,000 women
Hispanic b11.7 per 100,000 men8.0 per 100,000 women

US Mortality

From 2001-2005, the median age at death for leukemia was 74 years of age4. Approximately 3.1% died under age 20; 3.2% between 20 and 34; 3.5% between 35 and 44; 6.6% between 45 and 54; 12.2% between 55 and 64; 22.1% between 65 and 74; 31.6% between 75 and 84; and 17.6% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted death rate was 7.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are based on patients who died in 2001-2005 in the US.

Death Rates by Race
All Races 9.9 per 100,000 men5.6 per 100,000 women
White10.2 per 100,000 men5.7 per 100,000 women
Black8.5 per 100,000 men5.2 per 100,000 women
Asian/Pacific Islander 5.1 per 100,000 men3.0 per 100,000 women
American Indian/Alaska Native a5.7 per 100,000 men4.1 per 100,000 women
Hispanic b6.3 per 100,000 men4.0 per 100,000 women

Trends in Rates

Trends in rates can be described in many ways. Information for trends over a fixed period of time, for example 1995-2005, can be evaluated by the annual percentage change (APC) (See Fast Stats for trends over fixed time intervals) . If there is a negative sign before the number, the trend is a decrease; otherwise it is an increase. If there is an asterisk after the APC then the trend was significant, that is, one believes that it is beyond chance, i.e. 95% sure, that the increase or decrease is real over the period 1995-2005. If the trend is not significant, the trend is usually reported as stable or level. Joinpoint analyses can be used over a long period of time to evaluate when changes in the trend have occurred along with the APC which shows how much the trend has changed between each of the joinpoints.

The joinpoint trend in SEER cancer incidence with associated APC(%) for leukemia between 1975-2005
All Races
Male and FemaleMaleFemale

The joinpoint trend in US cancer mortality with associated APC(%) for leukemia between 1975-2005
All Races
Male and FemaleMaleFemale


Survival rates can be calculated by different methods for different purposes. The survival rates presented here are based on the relative survival rate, which measures the survival of the cancer patients in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of cancer. The overall 5-year relative survival rate for 1996-2004 from 17 SEER geographic areas was 51.2%. Five-year relative survival rates by race and sex were: 51.9% for white men; 51.5% for white women; 42.8% for black men; 43.6% for black women. (See Fast Stats for more detailed statistics)

Lifetime Risk

Based on rates from 2003-2005, 1.27% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with leukemia at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 79 men and women will be diagnosed with leukemia during their lifetime. These statistics are called the lifetime risk of developing cancer. Sometimes it is more useful to look at the probability of developing leukemia between two age groups. For example, 0.47% of men will develop leukemia between their 50th and 70th birthdays compared to 0.29% for women. (See Fast Stats for more detailed statistics, and Probability of Developing and Dying of Cancer for methodology)


On January 1, 2005, in the United States there were approximately 220,063 men and women alive who had a history of leukemia -- 123,731 men and 96,332 women. This includes any person alive on January 1, 2005 who had been diagnosed with leukemia at any point prior to January 1, 2005 and includes persons with active disease and those who are cured of their disease. Prevalence can also be expressed as a percentage and it can also be calculated for a specific amount of time prior to January 1, 2005 such as diagnosed within 5 years of January 1, 2005. (See Fast Stats for more detailed statistics, and Overview of Prevalence Statistics for methodology)


All statistics in this report are based on SEER incidence and NCHS mortality statistics. Most can be found within:

Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, Stinchcomb DG, Howlader N, Horner MJ, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Feuer EJ, Altekruse SF, Lewis DR, Clegg L, Eisner MP, Reichman M, Edwards BK (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2007 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2008.


1 Table I-1 (
2 Leukemia Section ( 1975_2005/results_merged/ sect_13_leukemia.pdf)
3 Table I-11 (
4 Table I-13 (
* The APC is significantly different from zero (p<.05).
a Incidence data for Hispanics is based on NHIA and excludes cases from Alaska Native Registry and Kentucky. Hispanic death rates exclude deaths from Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota.
b Incidence and mortality data for American Indians/Alaska Natives is based on the CHSDA (Contract Health Service Delivery Area) counties.


Annual percent change (APC)
The average annual percent change over several years. The APC is used to measure trends or the change in rates over time. For information on how this is calculated, go to Trend Algortihms in the SEER*Stat Help system. The calculation involves fitting a straight line to the natural logarithm of the data when it is displayed by calendar year.

Joinpoint analyses
A statistical model for characterizing cancer trends which uses statistical criteria to determine how many times and when the trends in incidence or mortality rates have changed. The results of joinpoint are given as calendar year ranges, and the annual percent change (APC) in the rates over each period.

Survival rates
Survival examines how long after diagnosis people live. Cancer survival is measured in a number of different ways depending on the intended purpose.

Relative survival rate
A measure of net survival that is calculated by comparing observed (overall) survival with expected survival from a comparable set of people that do not have cancer to measure the excess mortality that is associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Stage distribution
Stage provides a measure of disease progression, detailing the degree to which the cancer has advanced. Two methods commonly used to determine stage are AJCC and SEER historic. The AJCC method (see Collaborative Staging Method) is more commonly used in the clinical settings, while SEER has standardized and simplified staging to ensure consistent definitions over time.

Lifetime risk
The probability of developing cancer in the course of one's lifespan. Lifetime risk may also be discussed in terms of the probability of developing or of dying from cancer. Based on cancer rates from 2003 to 2005, it was estimated that men had about a 44 percent chance of developing cancer in their lifetimes, while women had about a 37 percent chance.

Probability of developing cancer
The chance that a person will develop cancer in his/her lifetime.

The number of people who have received a diagnosis of cancer during a defined time period, and who are alive on the last day of that period. Most prevalence data in SEER is for limited duration because information on cases diagnosed before 1973 is not generally available.