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Leukaemia in Australia

Leukaemia incorporates ICD-10 cancer codes C91 (lymphoid leukaemia), C92 (myeloid leukaemia), C93 (monocytic leukaemia), C94 (other leukaemias of specified cell type) and C95 (leukaemias of unspecified cell type).


Estimated* number of new cases of leukaemia diagnosed in 2016

3,624 = Male icon PNG 2,159 males + Female icon PNG 1,465 females


Leukaemia % of all new cancer cases PNG

Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2016

2.8%


Estimated number of deaths from leukaemia in 2016

1,795 = Male icon PNG 1,080 males + Female icon PNG 715 females


Leukaemia % of all new cancer cases PNG

Estimated % of all deaths from cancer in 2016

3.8%


cancer survival 5 years PNG

Chance of surviving at least 5 years (2008–2012)

58%


Lots of people PNG

People living with leukaemia at the end of 2010 (diagnosed in the 5 year period 2006 to 2010)

9,606


How common is leukaemia in Australia?

In 2012, there were 3,297 new cases of leukaemia diagnosed in Australia (1,993 males and 1,305 females).a In 2016, it is estimated that 3,624 new cases of leukaemia will be diagnosed in Australia (2,159 males and 1,465 females).b

In 2012, the age-standardised incidence rate was 13 cases per 100,000 persons (17 for males and 10 for females).d In 2016, it is estimated that the age-standardised incidence rate will be 13 cases per 100,000 persons (17 for males and 10 for females).

Leukaemia was the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2012. It is estimated that it will remain the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2016.

In 2016, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with leukaemia by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 62 (1 in 49 males and 1 in 80 females).

In 2016, from age group 20–24 to age group 85+, the incidence rate of leukaemia is expected to generally increase with age (see figure below).

Figure 1: Estimated age-specific incidence rates for leukaemia, 2016

bar graph showing the estimated number of new cases of leukaemia diagnosed in 2016, by five year age groups (0-4 to 85+). The age-specific incidence rate for each five year age group is expressed as the estimated number of new cases of leukaemia diagnosed per 100,000 persons, which is presented on the y-axis. The estimated incidence rate of leukaemia generally increases across the age groups, with persons aged 0-4 years having an estimated diagnosis rate of 8.5 cases per 100,000, while persons aged 85+ have an estimated diagnosis rate of 94.7 cases per 100,000.

Source: AIHW analysis of the Australian Cancer Database, (see source table 1).

Deaths from leukaemia

In 2013, there were 1,645 deaths from leukaemia in Australia (966 males and 679 females). In 2016, it is estimated that this will increase to 1,795 deaths (1,080 males and 715 females).c

In 2013, the age-standardised mortality rate was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 persons (8.2 for males and 4.7 for females).d In 2016, it is estimated that the age-standardised mortality rate will be 6.2 deaths per 100,000 persons (8.3 for males and 4.5 for females).

In 2013, leukaemia accounted for the 8th highest number of deaths from cancer in Australia. It is estimated that it will remain the 8th most common cause of death from cancer in 2016.

In 2016, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from leukaemia by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 114 (1 in 85 for males and 1 in 162 for females).

Incidence

The number of new cases of leukaemia diagnosed increased from 1,480 in 1982 to 3,297 in 2012.

Over the same period, the age-standardised incidence rate increased from 12 cases per 100,000 persons in 1982 to 13 cases per 100,000 persons in 2012.

Mortality

The number of deaths from leukaemia increased from 721 in 1968 to 1,645 in 2013.

Over the same period, the age-standardised mortality rate decreased from 7.5 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1968 to 6.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2013.

Figure 2: Age-standardised incidence rates for leukaemia 1982–2012 and age-standardised mortality rates for leukaemia 1968–2013

line graph with two lines showing actual incidence and mortality rates for leukaemia. One line of the graph shows actual incidence rates for leukaemia from 1982 to 2012. The other line shows actual mortality rates for leukaemia from 1968 to 2013. The age-standardised incidence and mortality rate for each year is expressed as the number of new cases or number of deaths per 100,000 persons and presented on the y-axis. The incidence rate for leukaemia increased from 11.8 cases per 100,000 persons in 1982 to 13.3 cases per 100,000 persons in 2012. The mortality rate for leukaemia decreased from 7.5 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1968 to 6.2 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2013.

Note: Incidence rates available for 1982–2012, and mortality rates available for 1968–2013.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (see source table 2).

Survival from leukaemia

In 2008–2012 in Australia, individuals diagnosed with leukaemia had a 58% chance of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.

Between 1983–1987 and 2008–2012, 5-year relative survival from leukaemia improved from 38% to 58%.

Figure 3: 5-year relative survival from leukaemia, 1983–1987 to 2008–2012

bar chart showing five year relative survival from leukaemia in five year periods, starting from 1983-1987 and ending in 2008-2012. The percentage of survival is presented on the y-axis. In 1983-1987, 5 year relative survival was 38.4%. This increased to 58.4% in 2008-2012.

Source: AIHW analysis of the Australian Cancer Database, (see source table 3).

Prevalence of leukaemia

The prevalence for 1, 5 and 29 years given below are the number of people living with leukaemia at the end of 2010 who had been diagnosed in the preceding 1, 5 and 29 years respectively.

One year prevalence

At the end of 2010, there were 2,570 people living who had been diagnosed with leukaemia that year.

Five year prevalence

At the end of 2010, there were 9,606 people living who had been diagnosed with leukaemia in the previous 5 years (from 2006 to 2010).

29 year prevalence

At the end of 2010, there were 22,634 people living who had been diagnosed with leukaemia in the previous 29 years (from 1982 to 2010).


Source tables

Source table 1: Estimated age-specific incidence rates for leukaemia, 2016
Age group (years) Number of new cases
per 100,000 persons
0–4 8.5
5–9 4.0
10–14 3.2
15–19 2.9
20–24 2.4
25–29 2.4
30–34 2.7
35–39 3.9
40-44 5.3
45-49 7.8
50-54 10.8
55–59 18.3
60-64 26.9
65–69 37.7
70-74 52.0
75–79 60.6
80–84 78.0
85+ 94.7
Source table 2: Age-standardised incidence rates for leukaemia 1982–2012 and age-standardised mortality rates for leukaemia 1968–2013
Year Rate of new diagnoses per 100,000 persons Rate of deaths per 100,000 persons
1968 - 7.5
1969 - 6.8
1970 - 7.2
1971 - 7.1
1972 - 7.4
1973 - 7.3
1974 - 7.3
1975 - 7.0
1976 - 7.3
1977 - 7.4
1978 - 7.2
1979 - 7.0
1980 - 8.1
1981 - 7.3
1982 11.8 7.7
1983 11.8 7.5
1984 12.4 7.5
1985 12.4 8.0
1986 12.4 7.4
1987 12.4 7.4
1988 12.9 7.5
1989 12.7 7.5
1990 13.3 7.1
1991 13.2 7.5
1992 13.3 7.7
1993 13.0 7.6
1994 13.8 7.7
1995 13.2 7.6
1996 13.6 7.7
1997 12.7 7.1
1998 13.4 7.5
1999 14.1 7.5
2000 13.8 7.3
2001 14.1 7.1
2002 14.5 7.3
2003 14.2 6.9
2004 14.8 7.0
2005 13.8 6.7
2006 13.7 6.8
2007 13.7 6.6
2008 14.0 6.5
2009 13.5 6.8
2010 13.6 6.7
2011 13.8 6.5
2012 13.3 6.4
2013 - 6.2
Source table 3: 5-year relative survival from leukaemia, 1983–1987 to 2008–2012
Year 5-year relative survival (%)
1983–1987 38.4
1988–1992 42.2
1993–1997 43.6
1998–2002 47.7
2003–2007 54.0
2008–2012 58.4

Data notes

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD-10)

Cancer, like other health conditions, is classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD-10). This is a statistical classification, published by the World Health Organization, in which each morbid condition is assigned a unique code according to established criteria.

Estimations

Future estimates for incidence and mortality are a mathematical extrapolation of past trends. They assume that the most recent trends will continue into the future, and are intended to illustrate future changes that might reasonably be expected to occur if the stated assumptions continue to apply over the estimated period. Actual future cancer incidence and mortality rates may vary from these estimations for a variety of factors. New screening programs may increase the detection of new cancer cases; new vaccination programs may decrease the risk of developing cancer; and improvements in treatment options may decrease mortality rates.

Due to the rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence and mortality may not sum to person incidence and mortality.

Incidence

Cancer incidence indicates the number of new cancers diagnosed during a specified time period (usually one year).

  1. The 2012 national incidence counts include estimates for NSW and the ACT because the actual data were not available.
  2. The 2016 estimates are based on 2002–11 incidence data. Due to rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence may not sum to person incidence.

Mortality

Cancer mortality refers to the number of deaths occurring during a specified time period (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.

  1. The 2016 estimates are based on 2002–13 mortality data.

Prevalence

Prevalence of cancer refers to the number of people alive with a prior diagnosis of cancer at a given time. It is distinct from incidence (see above). The longest period for which it is possible to calculate prevalence using the available national data (from 1982 to 2010) is currently 29 years. This span is used to estimate the 'total' prevalence of cancer at the end of 2010, noting that people diagnosed with cancer before 1982 are not included.

Age standardised rates

  1. Incidence and mortality rates expressed per 100,000 population are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.