In the era of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, the life expectancy of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is approaching that of the general population, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.1

The introduction of imatinib mesylate, the first tyrosine kinase inhibitor approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, led to a substantial improvement in the survival of patients with CML. Therefore, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, sought to evaluate how these changes in the treatment landscape of CML impacted the life expectancy of patients with CML and life-years lost due to CML between 1973 and 2013 in Sweden.

For the study, investigators analyzed data from a total of 2662 patients with CML diagnosed between 1973 and 2013 and included in the Swedish Cancer Registry. Patients were followed until death, censorship, or end of follow-up.

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Results showed that life expectancy dramatically improved over the study period, with the largest improvements observed in the youngest patients. Researchers also found that the improvements in life expectancy translated into vast reductions in the loss in expectation of life.

The study further demonstrated that patients whose disease was diagnosed in 2013 will lose an average of fewer than 3 life-years as a result of CML regardless of age.

“This will be an important message to convey to patients to understand the impact of a CML diagnosis on their life,” the authors conclude.

The findings also suggest that the increasing prevalence of patients with CML will greatly impact future health care costs as long as continuous treatment with kinase inhibitors in necessary.


1. Bower H, Bjorkholm M, Dickman PW, Hoglund M, Lambert PC, Andersson TM. Life expectancy of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia approaches the life expectancy of the general population. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Jun 20. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.66.2866.