CLL Coverage from Every Angle

Swiss Data Show Survival Improvement in CLL Since Late 1990s

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2021

Survival rates have improved since the 1990s for individuals with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) as new treatments have emerged, according to a retrospective study of Switzerland’s national database of cancer patient information. Mortality declined from 2.4 per 100,000 person-years in 1997–2002 to 2.0 per 100,000 in 2012–2016, declared Arndt Volker, MD, MPH, of the National Institute for Cancer Epidemiology and Registration at Switzerland’s University of Zurich, and colleagues in Swiss Medical Weekly.

The team investigated the incidence, mortality, and survival in consecutive 5-year periods between 1997 and 2016, during which 6,301 patients were diagnosed with CLL/SLL, with a median age at diagnosis of 72 years. Their analysis divided the group into three cohorts by age: younger than 65 years, 65–74 years, and 75 years or older.

“The 5- and 10-year age-standardized relative survival rates increased from 77.9% and 55.6%, respectively, in 1997–2001 to 83.6% (P = .009) and 64.2% (P = .005), respectively, in 2012–2016,” reported Dr. Volker and co-investigators. The improvements were mainly seen in the two younger age groups and were statistically significant in the group between 65 and 74.

The researchers found no particular trend, either upward or downward, in age-adjusted incidence, but men appeared to have had a higher incidence and higher mortality than women. And women seemed to have had better relative survival as well. “We assume that the survival improvement is due to advances in treatment, even though the data presented are not linked to individual treatment information,” the researchers commented. However, the team noted that limitations of their work included both possible delays in reporting and underreporting of data and changes in diagnostic criteria regarding patients diagnosed with CLL/SLL.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at

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