Cancer Forecast: Leukemia on the Decline in 2016

Leukemia death rates expected to fall significantly in Europe for 2016

(RxWiki News) According to new predictions, 2016 will be a good year for leukemia.

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is predicting increased leukemia survival rates among almost all age groups in Europe during 2016. Leukemia includes several cancers of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow.

"Predictions of death rates from leukaemia are complicated by the fact that leukaemias are a varied collection of blood cancers, with some being more treatable than others," said study co-author Carlo La Vecchia, MD, in a press release. "However, the important falls in overall death rates from this group of diseases are very encouraging and are a testament to the hard work of researchers and clinicians in developing and implementing better diagnosis and treatments."

Dr. La Vecchia is a professor of medicine at the University of Milan in Italy.

Leukemia can be either slow- or fast-growing, and typically hinders the body's ability to fight off infection. Common symptoms include fatigue, weight loss and frequent infections. Patients with leukemia also tend to bleed and bruise easily.

Better treatment methods, including chemotherapy and radiation, have increased survival rates for many types of leukemia — although chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) remains difficult to treat. CLL is a bone marrow cancer that tends to affect the elderly.

Dr. La Vecchia and colleagues based their predictions on European data from 1970 to 2013. Researchers analyzed data from all of the 28 European Union member countries for all cancers.

This is the sixth consecutive year these researchers have published these predictions, and there are encouraging downward trends in deaths from most cancers.

In 2016, leukemia death rates are projected to fall 38 percent in boys age 14 and younger. That figure is 20 percent in girls. In the 15 to 44 age group, rates are projected to fall 26 percent for men and 22 percent for women. Rates are projected to fall 19 percent in the 45 to 69 age group.

In the US, new leukemia cases have been rising at a rate of 0.2 percent each year for the last 10 years, according to the National Cancer Institute. The leukemia death rate has dropped 1 percent each year from 2003 to 2012, however.

Dr. La Vecchia cautioned, "Although we are seeing declining death rates, the number of new cases of cancer are increasing, placing a growing burden on national health services, and so governments should be aware of this and plan for it."

This study was published Jan. 26 in the journal Annals of Oncology.

The Italian Association for Cancer Research and others funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
January 27, 2016